230601-L-LO.jpgBrooke McClymont and Adam Eckersley will be familiar to many Australian country music fans – and McClymont, in particular, will be familiar to regular readers of this blog, because I have always been, and will remain, pro-McClymonts. In fact, in case I doubted my affection for the band, the first track on Adam & Brooke proved that I have an almost Pavlovian response to Brooke McClymont’s voice: I couldn’t help smiling as soon as I heard it. But that’s not a reason for anyone else to like this album, of course, so it’s just as well that Adam & Brooke is ten songs’ worth of country music excellence.

This is not an album that sounds like The McClymonts with a man attached, or like The Adam Eckersley Band with a woman singing along. McClymont and Eckersley have crafted a sound of their own, and written songs that belong just to them, both in the sense that some of the songs are about them and also that they now have a distinctive identity together.

Adam & Brooke combines country, rock and pop elements – McClymont’s pop instincts are too strong to leave them out – and taut, descriptive, emotional storytelling. The opening track, ‘Train Wreck’, suggests that the eponymous artists are themselves a bit of a track wreck – except the rest of the album does not bear this out, because it could only be the work of people who have done the work, and done their homework, and made a decision to create something great. And they had to, obviously – there was no way they could release something mediocre, not just because they are too experienced and talented but because the stakes were quite high. There was, no doubt, risk in doing this album – for any couple embarking on a major creative enterprise together, and especially for two whose reputations in the country music industry are so good. So no small measure of courage was required, and perhaps that was the extra ingredient that makes this album such a standout.

After ‘Train Wreck’ there is a lovely mix of tempos and stories. There’s lots of fun, and some sadness – particularly on the heartbreaking ‘Nothing Left to Win’, and the achingly honest ‘Not How I Feel’ – and there’s clearly a lot of love and regard from the two artists for each other.

It would be hard for fans of either or both McClymont and Eckersley not to have expectations of this album. It is not so much a relief as a delight to have those expectations so gloriously met. This is an album that announces a major new country music act – so while they’re both likely to continue with their original bands, let’s hope they continue to make music together for a very long time.

Adam & Brooke is out now through Lost Highway/Universal Music Australia.