Les Shelleys: Les Shelleys

Les Shelleys: Les Shelleys

B+

Les Shelleys

Album: Les Shelleys
Label: FatCat
B+

Les Shelleys

Album: Les Shelleys
Label: FatCat

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Tom Brosseau keeps unintentionally trailing behind fellow folkie M. Ward, another singer-songwriter who prefers his Americana on the archaic side. Now Brosseau, like Ward, has enlisted a female partner for a set of old-timey songs, though Les ShelleysAngela Correa is a far more accomplished musician than She & Him’s Zooey Deschanel. Les Shelleys’ self-titled debut album assembles songs from across the spectrum of 20th-century folk and pop, from Bob Dylan’s “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” (rendered a cappella here by Brosseau and Correa) to the ’40s calypso novelty “Rum And Coca Cola” (which the duo minimize and abstract until it sounds like an outtake from Van Dyke Parks’ Discover America). Les Shelleys try their hand at loping country on “Ain’t No Lie” and migrant-worker anthems on “Pastures Of Plenty,” all in muted arrangements that strive for the intimacy of two people in a tiny room late at night, trying to keep the noise down. Sometimes the results are too slight to register, but most often, Brosseau and Correa deliver gentle, unsentimental nostalgia, showing how effectively two people can use their own voices and bodies to cast quiet spells.

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