Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee are The Lowest Pair. The duo comes equipped with two banjos, two voices and guitars, and not too much else. In their case they really don’t need anything else to make the music sound full. The band recently released two full lengths Fern Girl & Ice Man and Uncertain as It Is Uneven.
Their music on Fern Girl & Ice Man harks back to bluegrass, Americana and traditional songs. The music feels organic and warm. It’s the type of music you could imagine being played during sunset on a front porch. For as warm as this music is it's also coated in melancholy. The melancholy is present in lyrics as well as in the instrumentation.
They kick things off with “The River Will” and showcase stellar vocal performances from Winter and Lee. Sometimes they sing individually, other times they combine. Either way it’s wonderful watching the pair do this dance with their vocals. The music is so sparse as it is held together by a banjo. Although it occasionally feels like it could fall apart the beauty is that it never does.
Next up is the soulful “Tagged Ear.” The music is great but it's the vocal harmonies that truly bring it to the next level. “Stranger” features prominent bass work while “When They Dance the Mountain Shake” has some percussive elements. At points “When They Dance the Mountain Shake” feels celebratory and is certainly one you can lightly shake your hips to.
As the album progresses the duo continues to hit it out of the park. “Totes” features acoustic guitar and vocals and “Sweet Breath” is much faster than anything else on the album. They close with “How Can I Roll” which perfectly balances hope, perseverance and melancholy.
Uncertain as It Is Uneven feels very much like an extension of Fern Girl & Ice Man. They don’t in any way pull off a Conor Oberst by trying to release two radically different albums. Uncertain as It Is Uneven is arguably a little more traditional sounding but even that is arguable.
The duo does take their time in a very beautiful way on most of these songs and that’s why it is a treat to hear them flex their technical muscles on a faster song like “Mason’s Trowel.” Of course there are some other highlights amongst the batch. I especially enjoyed “Like I Did Before.” The lyrics are fantastic here and go against typical tropes. They sing and repeat, “I don’t love you like I did before” and you think you know what's coming next until they drop the line “I love you more.” Congratz and cheers on that one.
One thing The Lowest Pair does so well is making just enough changes in some way to each song that keep you interested. They chose a refined palette of instrumentation and then paint different moods and tones for a song. It's a seamless album and one you can certainly enjoy from beginning to end.
Fern Girl & Ice Man and Uncertain as It Is Uneven are both inviting and heartfelt. They never overextend and never feel contrived. Highly Recommended.
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