Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken, TN EP as reviewed in Phantom TollboothWebb and McCracken's vocals and styles play well off each other.



Artist: Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken
Release Date: June 28, 2011
Duration:  7 tracks, 33:13

Continuing with the success of their first combined effort, the couple from Nashville again give heartfelt harmonies to a terrific set of songs. Independently successful, together their harmony is a unique match, and somehow, their differing styles uniquely compliment each other. 

Beginning with “From You to Me” with a mid-sixties like sound amid strong percussion and guitar, this song sets the stage for tight harmonies so well paired the listener takes flight with soaring harmony. Their rendition of “Time After Time“ is a slight update to Cindi Lauper’s original arrangement with the main vocal by Webb’s slightly weathered voices giving this time-tested love song new life - a gem. With “Last Fool Standing”,  McCracken takes the lead with backing music similar to some of the scratching, synth backing of Stockholm Syndrome. As always, McCracken’s emotion-soaked vocals can pull off any and all relationship offerings. One of the best covers of this Simon & Garfunkel all-time classic, “The Sound of Silence,” has boasts a large influence from Webb’s Stockholm Syndrome, with errie piano, slight backing synth, and heavy bass tones. This one sticks to the ribs! A triumph only Webb could pen. 

“We Will Never Have Tonight Again” is a showcase for McCracken’s vocals, which play best in a Country-Western-like relationship song as found with "When the Lights Go Out" on their first EP, Amerpersand. McCracken’s songs are truly beautiful in their simplicity.  A well written piece by the pair, “Etching” is something new and exciting with a Euro-like feel with Webb’s story telling of the influence others have on each of us.  Listen for the Wurlitzer-like backing under the guitars and vocals. Finally, the EP’s title track “Tennessee” showcases McCracken’s vocals melting into a piano led theme, a dramatic ending for the couple’s second venture. 

TN is a terrific follow-up to the couple’s initial offering with vocals and styles playing well off each other. Put both EPs back to back and you have a listening experience only matched recently by the popularity of The Civil Wars.

Scott S Mertens