Audrey & Hugh “Sisterman” (Independent, 2020)

The duo is an abiding force in Americana music and, more recently, male/female pairings have come very much to the fore – the Civil Wars (before their split), Shovels and Rope, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, The Handsome Family and many more. The latest addition to these ranks may well be singer-songwriters Audrey MacAlpine and Hugh Trimble, operating under the stunningly original moniker of Audrey and Hugh!
The key to the very best duos is the combination of voices and these are two voices that combine very well indeed; they both have a strong, clear voice along with great tone and their harmonies are excellent, as ably demonstrated on the track ‘Witness (Hey Ho)’, the first single from the album, with its Acapella opening. So far, so good – and it gets better. Both are accomplished songwriters, writing separately and together and producing some very good songs if this, their debut album, is anything to go by.

Audrey and Hugh both started out on the New York scene and originally met in Brooklyn, re-connecting some years later when they each, coincidentally, found themselves living and working in Nashville. They claim to be influenced by Folk and Americana storytelling traditions while basing their sound on the New York City sound of the early 60s that bought us the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary, but there’s more than a trace of country in their sound and Nashville has clearly cast some of its spell over them; album opener ‘Door to Door’ is sung entirely in close harmony and is quite reminiscent of the Everly Brothers in places.

This is a strong album extremely well produced by Grammy-winning sound engineer and producer Mitch Dane but, sadly, there’s no information on who played what on the album, which is a shame because there’s a lot of good musicianship on show here. Particularly striking is some of the fiddle playing, at its best on the track ‘Patrick Swayze’.

The duo have an interesting story about the album’s title, ‘Sisterman’. It seems that the name Sisterman, started as a word the pair used to describe the familiar closeness of their bond, but evolved to “became more of an exclamation, and when people started to like our music and recognize us, they’d refer to us in that way, yell it at us when we played, so it stuck as a name for the project.” It seems a little corny as a story but you can judge for yourself how well ‘Sisterman’ describes their sound and songs with the album being released in the UK in April. It’s an assured debut and, on the strength of this first album, we should be hearing a lot more from Audrey & Hugh.

Strong debut album from an accomplished duo
8/10

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