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Ampersand (EP)
Artist: Derek Webb/Sandra McCracken
Label: INO
Length: 6/21:33
 

Funny how God works at times.  Eight years ago, Derek Webb was on a coffee run as a member of Caedmon's Call.  He walks into a small coffee shop in Nashville and hears Sandra McCracken singing.  He buys her debut, plays it for the band, and eventually she joins the group.  Fast forward eight years: Derek and Sandra are married, have a child, two solo careers, and thirteen solo discs between them.

Ampersand, however, is their first attempt at writing together.  The EP is a perfect meld of Webb's pop sensibilities and McCracken's southern roots/Americana vocals.  Imagine a Beatles records infused with Indigo Girls or Jayhawks pacing, and you begin to get the picture.  "Valentine" describes the craziness of life, and how the two are best when together.

"When the Summer's Gone" is a sweet longing for the days of romance and beaches.  McCracken's vocals here are a richer version of Lucinda Williams.  "Watch Your Mouth", reminiscent of Webb's Mockingbird tunes, sums up marriage in a nutshell: "I'd rather fight with you if that's the only way to be close to you."  "When the Lights Go Out" is a Sara Groves-like song about relaxing as a couple.  "If Not For You" is a Dylan cover along the same lines lyrically.

As a listener, I'd call Ampersand_an experiment that succeeds very well.  The only other group that has detailed the highs and lows of marital relationships while sounding this good is Over the Rhine.  My hope is that they think about a full release, and touring together, and that this isn't a one off.

Brian A. Smith
24 April 2008


 
 
 

 
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