By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
However, as Rachel & Andy's fan base widened, praise was more common than criticism, with listeners responding to the symbiotic way that the two musicians communicated on stage. They decided to commit that live energy to a recording and, in 1999, they released a debut CD called So Much Left to Say. A varied collection of twelve tunes (most penned by Ard), the release took place right before Simring made the big move to Denver to launch Club Amigos. Her teaching job in a private school had pretty much run its course; when her family decided to head west, she went along, feeling she needed a fresh start. So, for her, the title of the CD felt appropriate on several different levels.
"I knew that I was moving to Colorado, and it was the whole idea of when you leave any situation, you always feel like there's so much left to say," says Simring. "How many songs have been written about things that you should have told people?" she adds. Her bandmate agrees with that take, but more from the musical perspective. "In any situation like that, you always feel like you never get the whole message in," says Ard. "That whole album, the songs that are on there are just scratching the surface of what we've got waiting in the wings."
If So Much was a goodbye letter of sorts to the Georgia community, it was quite a farewell, indeed. The album contains the duo's now-trademark harmonies and runs the gamut of subject matter to touch on themes of love, change, redemption, social strata, dreams and bitterness. The CD is reminiscent of back-to-basics rock and roll with a poet's lyrical touch of the sort captured recently by Billy Bragg and Wilco on the Mermaid Avenue collections. On "Bridges Burned," the album's soaring opening track, Ard croons raspily about jealousy and loss: "How do I apologize/There were things I didn't realize?/We'll rebuild the bridges on the way/Oh, girl, there's so much left to say." The vaudevillian "Dr. & the Mrs.," which the pair describes as the "Oompa Loompas singing to the parents of a spoiled brat," is a sing-songy look at highfalutin' rich folk and their "not so very nice" but oh-so-cute offspring: "Well there's dimples in his cheeks and a sparkle in his eye/Never mind the fact that he's telling you lies."
9:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 20
Café Cero, 1446 South Broadway
9 p.m. Friday, February 23
Stella's Coffee House, 1476 South Pearl Street
Benefit for Maestro
7 p.m. Thursday, February 28
Soiled Dove, 1949 Market Street
Tracks like "Will You Tell Her?" highlight Simring's husky alto and recall other female singers like Baby Animals' Suze DeMarchi and Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano. Originally written as "Will You Tell Him?" and sung by Ard, the tune now unveils the story of an obsessed woman who asks her ex-boyfriend if he's going to tell his new girlfriend the same lines she once heard: "Will you leave her if she's not just what you need?"
"It's creepier with her singing it, and more haunting," says Ard, though Simring adds that she now takes the heat for the song's Fatal Attraction-esque underpinnings. "It's about this bitter lover, and it's funny because everyone thinks I'm so bitter, but Andy wrote the song."
Bitterness isn't something the duo is feeling much of these days. In fact, since Ard joined Simring in Denver last July, they've quickly been accepted into the local music mix. Currently, the two are hard at work in their very own home studio finishing up tunes for a second CD. They aim to put together a full band so that the next release will be much more "ambitious as far as instrumentation and arrangement," says Ard. The planned addition of a drummer and a bass player will "really make the songs rock" and go beyond the three-minute lengths that have characterized the tunes so far.
Rachel & Andy are also carving a niche in Denver's music scene, thanks in part to contacts and connections they've made through the Colorado Music Association, or COMA. While Ard is spearheading a February 28 benefit for kids' music programs (known as Maestro) at the Soiled Dove, Simring is producing a local-music compilation CD for Denver-area venues to play in between sets. Featuring twenty bands, ranging from the New Texas Troubadours to Kristina Ingham and Eric Shiveley, the CD should be done by mid-February. "Some club owners contacted COMA and said, 'Look, if you can make some sort of compilation of local music, we'd play it.' We can't think of better music to play than local music," Simring says of the project's origins.
Further upping the sweetness quotient of their semi-saccharine grouping, Simring and Ard have made their musical partnership a marital one, as well: The two were wed in a New Year's Day ceremony in Estes Park. But according to Simring, romance was not part of what brought them together in the early days. "When we first started singing together, everyone kept saying, 'Wow, the chemistry between you is just phenomenal. Are you guys, you know, going out?' I was like, 'No, no, no.' We just thought the other was a dork, respectively, and definitely not each other's type. And then, after singing for a while, we developed a close bond, and we shared some experiences that really brought us closer together."