An interesting blend of styles
Reviewed October 2009
By Albert and Gage
MoonHouse Records: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Christine Albert and Chris Gage are experienced Texas musicians who formed a duo 12 years ago and have been making country, rock and folk music. On five previous CDs, her spirited vocals have combined with his string, keyboard and singing talents. They have recorded a new disc, "Dakota Lullaby," composed of songs by a longtime friend of Gage's, a South Dakota native and unheralded songwriter named Tom Peterson.
The tunes here cover a wide variety of styles, from straight country to swing jazz, blues to pop. The backing musicianship features some horn arrangements, pedal steel and fiddle on other tunes, and superior work by Gage on acoustic and electric guitar and keyboards throughout. The songs are well-crafted, and many are memorable.
After a quiet, country-folk title tune opener with Albert showing off her pipes, "Hell or High Water," a catchy country rocker, takes off with her Dolly Parton sound-alike singing, and some hot acoustic licks by Gage. Gage sings the lead on the swing duet "Cuttin' a Rug," as piano and fiddle lead a complete departure from any country flavor, and next up, "Say Yes to Love” hugs forward with horns and backup vocals behind Albert on an R&B/gospel rocker. These and other tunes are arranged well, and the vocals click, so the eclecticism of the project works and doesn't sound like a country act taking a few stabs at crossover music.
"If I Die Tomorrow" has great lyrics, stays with the listener and is a clear disc highlight, a lighthearted blues with an irreverent Gage vocal, while "Annie" is a smooth country shuffle with a hook and some nice slide guitar playing. "Does She Have a Future With Me" is more swing, and there are several slower ballads, featuring each of the singers; the ones with Albert, like "Tender Loving Care," sounding rather conventionally country with lots of pedal steel and vocal longing.
"Dakota Lullaby" is an interesting blend of musical styles that shows the versatility of the artists and the strength of the songwriter. It isn't strictly a country album, but these aren't just country musicians.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.