Something about the story of The Licorice Whips is heartwarming. Melanie McDermott (bass) and Julie Clark Shubert (electric guitar) initially met at an open mic. Hubert picked up a Fender Strat at the age of fifty and McDermott despite being twenty-five years younger had been playing bass for twenty years. After discovering they had chemistry they started working on their album Descended From Cats.
Descended From Cats is a simple album in a number of ways. The instrumentation is sparse, the chords progressions are basic and the melodies are sing-along worthy. I don’t mind a simple guitar lick especially when it’s mostly there to serve the vocals which you have here.
My only minor issue with this album is sometimes the energy feels a little deflated. Some of the songs may have benefited from percussion. There are a couple of songs that actually do have drums but it’s so lo-fi it really doesn’t add much.
The album starts with “Sammy” which is a solid song. It's a song that revolves around their vocal harmonies which is really their strength. They sing, “Hope is a thing / That you need to feed If you don't well it.”
I was pleasantly surprised to hear what sounded like a harp on “Rapunzel.” It fit the fantasy theme and ended up one of my personal favorite tracks. “Leave Your Apron at Home” is a well sung song about a Thelma and Louise type girl getaway. Definitely a highlight.
The duo run into a little bit of trouble “I Want to Know You” which sounds inspired by Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash. It’s not a bad song but the percussion is off time and this happens again on other songs. I would suggest they pass on the drums until they can get a better recording and figure out a better way to get to stay in the pocket with the other instruments.
Overall, Descended From Cats has some mishaps but has some good songs with great vocal delivery. If the duo want to take it to the next level I suggest a step up in recording quality and it might be beneficial to work with a knowledgeable producer who can hone their talent. Descended From Cats is a good foundation and I hope to hear more.
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