Little Country Giants “Dead Reckoning” (Independent, 2016)

Littllittle-country-giants-dead-reckoninge Country Giants comprise husband and wife duo Cameron Federal and Russell Cook and were formed in 2004 and are one of the best kept secrets of the traditional country genre. If you liked the “Oh Brother” soundtrack and the various offshoots from that style then chances are that you will fall in love with this too. The opening track “Party Till You Fall” is an upbeat pared back country rock number followed by “Chart To My Heart” featuring tuba and french horn mingled together artfully with mandolin and soaring harmonies.

The duo generally take lead vocals in turns but they produce great harmony together on a couple of tracks with “I Will Always Be Around” being the best, a love song with great sentiment and a lively mandolin solo. However “Whiskey” is not far behind with a haunting delivery accompanied by only acoustic guitar.

There are many standout moments here but probably the best track here is “I Can’t Breathe” which is a western swing number that you can imagine being performed by groups of the 40’s and 50’s such as Bob Wills and his Playboys huddled around a single microphone. Indeed the artists’ website quotes Russell Cook as saying “I’m a really big fan of acoustic blues and that meeting point between country and jazz that happened with Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills”. You can certainly tell that this is material produced by people who care and love the music that they are delivering and who have managed to create one of the best albums of its type in many years.

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