British-American singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson has a pedigreed family and career, collaborating with Rufus and Martha Wainwright, among others. Based in New York City, his musical influences cross folk, rock and Elvis Presley. Kelly Jones is a singer-songwriter living in Los Angeles whose background is more in the country vein. The pair first sang together in LA club Largo in 2011 and, clearly, something gelled.
Now, together, they have created a jewel of an album – or, rather, ten jewels of songs that make up Little Windows. These songs are not appropriate for anyone intent on having a bad day, because they can’t help but make the listener feel extremely happy, with their Andrews Sisters-meets-country-and-folk structures and sounds.
Some songs, like ‘Don’t Remind Me’ and ‘As You Were’, sound as though they’re being broadcast across the decades from the years after World War II, but with less of a saccharine spin to the lyrics and a delightful play of male and female voices rather than all female or all male. Thompson’s and Jones’s singing styles aren’t as stylised as the singers from that era, and that’s what gives these songs their modern bent. This is the twentieth century’s version of classical music remade for a twenty-first century audience.
Several of the songs sound as though they belong on a front porch at sunset, a guitar in someone’s hand and the performers indulging in the sheer joy of singing with each other. In this way they honour the traditions of country music while again reinterpreting them for an audience that may have no knowledge of the genre. This is what happens when two seriously talented and experienced musicians know how to work with their material and each other.
If you are someone whose day revolves around music – if you wake up and go to sleep with songs on your mind, and find yourself distracted by songs throughout the day – this album cannot help become a favourite. It is enchanting and generous, as if Thomspon and Jones are giving the listener a gift that could be snatched away if we don’t appreciate it properly. Happily, it’s a gift that will stick around, for as many repeated listenings as you like, for many years to come.
Little Windows is available through Cooking Vinyl Australia.