Playlist

However ambitious and likable the project (or downright lazy not to use even one of their own compositions), the arrangements come off as fairly entrancing minimalist grooves, functional folk-funk and smooth acid blues. Walking bass lines accompany "St.James," a sixteenth-century British street ballad with enough overly produced cinematic flourish to almost blur what the infirmary dictates about the dues of hard living. Sea shanty accordion flavors enhance "Tom Dooley," an homage to a gallows thug; too bad the tolling of the synthesized bell ultimately rings so hollow for this well-hung man. "Train That I Ride" employs some fun Shaft-style guitars, but its techno-patter gets cloying in a big hurry. The duo's tribute to the 1917 chiller "Black Girl" scores, however, with banjos accompanying Domino's rich and beautifully disembodied voice, then building into a thick, swirling jam of ghostliness, intrigue and scroungy-sounding guitars before sidewinding its way back home.

Anna and Michael should hire a flesh-and-blood timekeeper--a good one--and toss those stupid programmed traps out the frickin' window. Keep the dobros, banjos, accordions--even some of the darker, chamber music bits. They should then leave hipster New York to set up shop in a backwoods barn and throw rattlers at each other under a full moon until the cemetery's empty. Stripped-down music almost always sounds better--there's something about the subtlety of an open casket.

--John La Briola

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