Listen Up: Wednesday, June 01, 2005
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Caitlin Cary & Thad Cockrell

Begonias
(Yep Roc Records)

By Tom Geddie

If Caitlin Cary is lightning flickering across the alt-country horizon, perhaps Thad Cockrell is low-rumbling, persistent thunder. The two fit together seamlessly on their first duet c.d., Begonias, co-authoring nine of the 11 tracks.
While Cary has cycled through Whiskeytown (with Ryan Adams), Tres Chicas (with Lynn Blakey of Glory Fountain and Tonya Lamm of Hazeldine), and solo work, Cockrell has quietly accumulated more critical acclaim than audience for his work. The two graduates of the scene in Raleigh, N.C., used to write together on Sunday afternoons and collaborated earlier on songs for both of Cary’s solo c.d.’s. The duo reportedly recorded Begonias in Nashville in real time, which is supposed to mean that all the musicians played all the songs together at the same time to help create and preserve a natural sound and feel. Sometimes, that’s an artistic choice; other times, it’s a budget demand.


More information: The delicate mix of Cockrell’s clear tenor and Cary’s mid-range soprano is traditional enough — without losing freshness — to make this a straight-up country album. The consistently solid lyrics often explore the universal themes of the crud that accumulates around, and suffocates, love.
The duo’s pleading interpretation of the Percy Sledge hit “(Let Me Wrap You In My) Warm & Tender Love” is one of the c.d.’s highlights, turning the old R&B song into pure country soul.
“Please Break My Heart,” which Cary recorded on her most recent solo disc, becomes a more complex song as a duet. Cary said it’s done “the way that Ray Charles and Betty Carter might have recorded it: plainly spoken but with a lot of stylistic details that come straight out of the early ’60s.” It works beautifully, like most of Begonias.


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