BARWICK & SIEGFRIED, THE TRESTLE

barwick-&-siegfriedBARWICK & SIEGFRIED
THE TRESTLE

FGM Records
FGM-1501

   What makes the duo format so musically appealing is the same thing that makes it so daunting. There is absolutely no place to hide. Every note played or sung, and each that’s left un-played, must find its perfect place in order to achieve that sublime blend of two voices and two instruments creating a greater whole. This spare setting finds a friend in Barwick & Siegfried, the pairing of California musicians Kathy Barwick on guitar, bass, and harmony vocals and Pete Siegfried on lead vocals and mandolin. Over 11 tracks, mostly songs, they present a varied program that mixes pieces both old and new. While they do straightforward and deferential versions of familiar selections such as “Walk On, Boy,” “The L & N Don’t Stop Here Anymore,” and “Dig A Hole In The Meadow,” it’s in gathering less familiar songs and putting their distinctive stamp on them that they really excel. Siegfried obviously loves narrative ballads, and he knows how to tell and sell a story, as can be heard on Dan Berggren’s musical setting of the traditional “River Driving,” T-Bone Burnett’s “The Bird That I Held In My Hand,” the atmospheric title song written by Mark Berkley, and Siegfried’s own autobiographical “California Bound.”

I’ve been fortunate enough to review both of Kathy Barwick’s solo albums for BU, and they’ve both been distinguished by her passion for supporting the song. So her collaboration with Pete Siegfried frees her to find the perfect groove, the ideal harmony, the most tasteful solo, all in support of the fine material they’ve chosen to record here. The only thing I could find on this recording that didn’t “wow” me was their version of the modern classic “Wait A Minute,” not because it isn’t a great song, not because they don’t sing it great, but perhaps just because it’s so respectful of the Seldom Scene’s iconic version, vocal flourishes and all, that it’s hard to not have their cover pale in comparison. But for all that, The Trestle is an excellent debut release by two like-minded lovers of song who’ve found musical gold in their pairing. (FGM Records, P.O. Box 8166, Columbia, MO 65205, www.barwickandsiegfried.net.)HK

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