Posted on January 18th, 2014 (1:43 pm) by Michael Mangarella

There are very few humbling experiences in an entertainment industry that prizes flash over substance. Too often, the true auteurs of songwriting languish in obscurity for years before getting even a nibble of genuine recognition for their hard earned efforts. In a business that rewards arrogance in the form of wannabe gangsters, twerkers, and in general, shallow-minded poseurs, with riches beyond most of our comprehension, the unobtrusive appearance of true talent can act as a form of restorative justice to even the most jaded of critics. Kendl Winter, a native of Arkansas, now living in Olympia, Washington and Minnesota native son, Palmer T. Lee have combined their folk/bluegrass talents to form The Lowest Pair. Ms. Winter’s excellent output on the Olympia-based K Records and Mr. Lee’s substantial bluegrass efforts have thus far flown under the radar of contemporary music. With their debut, 36 Cents, a little luck, and a whole lot of justice, that should change dramatically.

A trickling banjo spikes the current of harmony vocals giving “Do You Leave The Light On,” a foreboding, backwoods presence. Bittersweet memories prevail on “Last Summer,” guitar and banjo setting a tone of painful resolve; Lee’s restrained vocals seated nicely inside the framework of this tale of yearning. The pace gets a slight jolt on the stream of consciousness, “Living Is Dying,” a tide pool of guitar and banjo swarming like bees on a warm summer day. A time for contrition prevails on the tale of regret that is, “Magpies At Sunset." Winter’s vocal taking front stage, winding seamlessly like a bulb into a socket, the interplay of banjo and guitar providing the light. Her plaintive vocals on the Stephen Foster, American classic “Oh Susanna,” could draw tears from even the coldest of hearts. “Pear Tree” features some heartfelt guitar picking while the spirit of the late, great, Townes Van Zant resides prominently in Lee’s scruffy vocals on “Trying To Feel At Home,” a song that feels at home in a 2014 release as it would have four decades ago, on a humid, summer night at Houston’s long gone, Old Quarter. “Tuesday Morning” has a sweet, yet melancholy folk feel. ”When I Dock My Boat” appropriately ends this beautiful album with a folk/gospel-tinged send up of our eventual reunion in the sky with all we've loved, that have gone before.

Keeping it real and letting the beauty and flow of simplicity be your calling card is rare in todays, anything-for-a-buck, music industry. On 36 Cents, that is what Winter and Lee have done. It is early on a cold January evening, certainly too premature to surmise how 2014 is going to unfurl in the trendily fickle music world over the next eleven months but one thing is for sure, The Lowest Pair have dealt its hand early, and the listener is left holding a handful of aces in this work of uncommon rustic beauty. Say hello to the first great album of 2014.

Track List:
1. Do You Leave The Light On
2. Last Summer
3. Living Is Dying
4. Magpies At Sunset
5. Moving On
6. Oh Susanna
7. Pear Tree
8. Rumi’s Field
9. Trying To Feel At Home
10. Tuesday Morning
11. When I Dock My Boat

36 Cents, The Lowest Pair, Kendl Winter, Palmer T. Lee, Team Love Records
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

86 / 100
© Inyourspeakers Media LLC