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Pete Krebs / Danny Barnes | Duet For Clarinet And Goat (Cavity Search)
There's something extremely nice about an unexpected collaboration like this. Especially when it appears on your desk without the barrage of hype and chatter that so normally accompany such releases. But first, a little history. Pete Krebs is a talented singer songwriter from the Pacific Northwest with a couple of great albums to his credit. Danny Barnes comes from the other end of the spectrum, both musically and geographically. Frontman of the legendary Texas punk-grass outfit The Bad Livers, with several albums of scorching proto-alt.country behind them, Barnes has taken a sabbatical and, having relocated to the Northwest, seems to be in the mood for fun. Starting off with Krebs singing a Barnes song and sounding just like Barnes himself, and concluding with the glorious duet Love Went Wrong, it's amazing how seamless these two men's styles are when put next to one another. Alternating between vocalists, this record has a coherence that most collaborations sorely lack, the sum being not only more than the parts but revealing something about the performers that you wouldn't normally see. Danny Barnes' mellifluous banjo playing dominates this sparse record; often it is the only instrumentation, flirting between bluegrass, psychedelia, blues and folk styles, sometimes within the same solo. The mixture of phat trip-hop beats and Barnes' heavily accented, laid-back country drawl that worked so well on the last Bad Livers record is resuscitated here on a number of tracks, most notably the insouciant Oh Fuck It and the old folk standard House Carpenter, which sounds like it is being sung from a sunken sub somewhere on the bottom of the ocean. Krebs' songs are just as good and his voice sounds better than ever, especially on the Springsteen-esque tale of a football star finally finding peace in his life (Worry Bout Yesterday) and the intensely moving dead lover saga of Sleep Long Sweet Angel. Along the way, Krebs covers an old Bad Livers song (Shot At A Bird, Hit Me A Stump) and Barnes makes a fine effort of singing Jilted from Krebs' time in the band Hazel. The cover of this album shows two men fighting, the record inside couldn't be further from the truth; Barnes and Krebs clearly sound as if they had a whale of a time recording this and, for once, it actually translates to the listener making for an addictive and compelling album.
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001