‘Country Darkness Vol. 2’ is an EP featuring songs originally penned by Elvis Costello, which are given the duet treatment by My Darling Clementine, AKA Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish. Providing the deftly delivered keyboards, which form the musical bedrock of these songs, is Costello’s own keyboard player, Steve Nieve. King is also known for forming The Good Sons who took their name from Nick Cave’s The Good Son whilst prior to My Darling Clementine, Lou Dalgleish has worked with Bryan Ferry and The Brodsky Quartet.
The opening track, ‘Either Side of the Same Town’ adopts a similar tempo to the original but it is the vocal delivery that takes ownership of this song. King opens with an impassioned baritone joined by Dalgleish’s glorious vocals building to a powerful and engaging harmonic structure. Nieve’s piano playing gives a solid almost gospel feel to the track. ‘I Lost You’, originally co-written by Costello and Nashville singer-songwriter, Jim Lauderdale, develops a wonderful conversational delivery between King and Dalgleish singing of, “An apparition in a haunting mystery, that I feel passed over me”; the call and response on the outro is irresistible.
‘Different Finger’, with its accordion accompaniment, offers an engaging tale of guilt and desperation coupled with the awkwardness of an illicit liaison. Rieve’s spirited piano playing also adds vibrancy to the song which lends itself well to the duet treatment. ‘Too Soon to Know’, the final track on this EP, takes a drifting elegiac pace to describe a cracked relationship teetering on the edge of collapse; there may or may not be hope contained within.
If this is your first encounter with My Darling Clementine, then you are likely to want to hear more. The songs develop Costello’s original work taking it to new places, giving heartfelt interpretations to stories of love and loss.