Cassie Josephine & Gabriel Minnikin
Contemporary Country Duets With a Beautiful Melodic Twist.
Gabriel Minnikin has been on the outer edges of my radar for a few years courtesy of mutual friend Gem Andrews; but it is only with the release of this disc that I’ve actually heard why Gem raves about him.
Aha! You say; but this features Cassie Josephine too…..and indeed it does; which was a wonderful surprise as I was expecting another solo outing from Nova Scotian Mr. Minnikin.
Ooh! My ears pricked up like a meerkats when the soothing Twang of opening track Forever drifted from the office speakers followed by Cassie Josephine’s sweet and expressive voice. It’s sometimes lazy to throw comparisons into a review; but I immediately thought back to those early Nanci Griffith and Laura Cantrell albums as she took us on a Mid-Western Country road trip over the next couple of songs.
Although this is a CD, I’m impressed by the way the album is split into two distinctive ‘sides’ just like olde worlde LP’s used to be with Cassie taking the lead on Side 1, as befits a lady.
What a voice she has…..’like warm honey and butter on a freshly toasted crumpet (ha,ha,ha), but seriously she has a gorgeously sweet voice yet with a slight ‘edge’ to it which comes out in all its glory on the brittle I Don’t Want to Go Anywhere and Through The Blue which made me go weak at the knees whenever the mandolin got played.
Side #2 opens with Gabriel singing the dark and brooding Red Dirt Morning, and the mood immediately changes as he flirts with a sound normally associated with Gram Parsons and Neil Young’s acoustic period.
The highly atmospheric Good Listener appears to pay homage to the Godfathers of Alt. Country, the Band, with Minnikin and friends singing a doleful lament that sound like it was written around a campfire on the Lonesome Trail, as Levon taps out the beat on a wagon wheel.
The songwriting and storytelling is sublime throughout, with Minnikin’s Maid of Honor and St. Genevive trailing a very close second and third to Cassie Josephine’s The Price for the title of ‘Best in Show’ but Cassie’s beautiful rendition coupled with a violin, pedal-steel and piano accompaniment are just exquisite.
Certainly an album of ‘two halves’ but that is the couples intention, and it works very, very well producing a Country album that straddles every permutation that title suggests with ease, from Swing through Country Rock to Alt. and will please fans of Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Lambchop and Sturgill Simpson equally well.
Released December 9th 2016