Tracy McNeil and Dan Parsons serve up some delicious fare on their debut album as a duo.
So here is a duo that could start to make waves in the Americana space, with a delightful, breezy album full of songs of love and respect, dreams and yearning. It is a folksy offering with overtones of Simon and Garfunkel, a slice of Graham Nash-sounding harmony and some retro 70s and 80s production – a little something for everyone!
Tracy McNeil and Dan Parsons are, respectively, Canadian and Australian and have been together for some time (Parsons is/was guitarist in McNeil’s band TheGoodLife, who released a very good album in 2020). This new album arose out of the COVID pandemic, when the duo were ensconced at Parsons’ parents’ home in Queensland, just as The GoodLife album ‘You be the Lightning’ was released, a hiccup that happened to many an artist in 2020, aborting the promotion of the album. So the couple started writing together, songs with an altogether different tone, somewhat lighter but with the same lyrical depth, and the result is the self-titled ‘Minor Gold’, a little gem of an album where the dreams and yearning referred to above are about moving away, moving on or just getting away from the ‘imprisonment’.
Take the opening track ‘Mona Lisa’, a slowish medium pacer with lovely rhythmic acoustic guitar, and gorgeous harmonies with a retro 70’s Simon and Garfunkel sound. It’s about progressing their relationship and getting away to the sun, though it could apply to anyone – “I’d find the words to say if I could know that you would take them as I meant them I thought I saw a smile or something kind, maybe just dreamt it? I’m not sure what I’ll find if I dare to cross that line You shine like gold when you’ve won Found your place in the sun, ain’t it good for everyone “
‘Way with words’ is slightly slower with a more percussive sound (courtesy of Parsons), and there is that lovely vocal interplay again. The backing builds with the addition of Andrew Ball on sax. Ball appears on the next track ‘Don’t change’ with the kind of tenor sax involvement that Ernie Watts used to add to those 80s’ AOR tracks. The whole album has a mix of sounds that should make you feel good inside – great melodic songs (‘Cannonball’ is a quite beautiful ballad), stunning vocal harmonies, thoughtful and detailed vocal interplay that rewards repeated listens (hear Graham Nash overtones on ‘Tumbleweed’), some great guitar sounds (check out Parson’s quasi-psychedelic outro on ‘Around the Bend’), and an homage to Al Green with the lilting ‘The River’ with its wordless chorus.
And if you were thinking it is all a bit lightweight (it’s not) take a listen to ‘Note to Self’, a very self -introspective track with eerie electric guitar in the outro. “Why did I go out tonight, even though I said I don’t feel like it Scrawl it on my head, ring that bell Paranoid and wound up tight, trying hard not to fight it Remember how this feels – note to self”
This is an album that will repay constant rotation and hopefully we can expect more from this delightful couple. It is a great debut as a duo – lie back and just let the sounds, and their wonderful voices, wash over you.