Album review: ‘Mockingbird Soul’ a soaring debut

Fate gets both proven and defined by Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough’s “Mockingbird Soul.”

Brigitte DeMeyer and Will KimbroughThe two singer/songwriters have always distinguished themselves separately. Together on and off for six years now, they blend as if predestined to on their debut album as a duo. Although they grew up absorbing similar influences in different ways, DeMeyer and Kimbrough always shared an affinity for Elmore James and the Allman Brothers. Both leak through slightly, in sentiment, or dazzling chops.

Largely, down-to-earth assortments of country and the blues with jazz and gospel shadings settle in, and really stand out, no matter the intent or the tenor. All but one of the 12 offerings are original songs, naturally woody-sounding, about things like “The Juke,” the place for letting emotions run carefree in times of trouble. Or about juvenile man-behavior, such as that described in “Running ‘Round.” In both cases, first through DeMeyer’s grits ‘n honey voice and then in Kimbrough’s boyish, joyous one, the scenes are alive. Spare instrumentation throughout helps keep the focus on the singers, and on Kimbrough’s quite exceptional guitar playing. And, on the song.

“Mockingbird Soul” itself suggests gentleness, and delivers it, but with wrenching power. DeMeyer really bares herself there, but quickly gets cheeky on “Honey Bee,” which adheres to old-timey traditions while sounding so relevant, now. For the elusive “Carpetbagger’s Lullaby,” co-author Oliver Wood of the Wood Brothers shares his warm voice with DeMeyer. The album coda and lone cover, a take on the Incredible String Band’s “October Song,” provides a blues to contemplate almost anything to. But as well, be thrilled by. Minimalist music oftentimes make the biggest impact. And fate happens.

-Tom Clarke

Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough
“Mockingbird Soul”
brigittedemeyer.com; willkimbrough.com

Live appearance: Harlow’s Restaurant and Nightclub, 2708 J Street, Sacramento; 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24; $20 LINK

ABOUT Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke
From pre-war blues to the bluegrass of the Virginia hills, Tom Clarke has a passion for most any kind of deep-rooted American music, and has been writing about it for 25 years. He’s particularly fond of anything from Louisiana, Los Lobos, and the Allman Brothers Band and its ever-growing family tree. Tom’s reviews and articles have appeared in BluesPrint, the King Biscuit Times, Hittin’ The Note, Kudzoo, Blues Revue, Elmore, Blues Music Magazine, and now, Tahoe Onstage. Tom and his wife Karen have raised four daughters in upstate New York. They split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and coastal South Carolina.

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