When Eagle & the Wolf – a duo comprised of Sarah Humphreys and Kristen Lee Morris – released ‘Something Good’, the first single from their new album, Two Lovers, it could be said they were making a promise about what that album might entail. When they later released the glorious single ‘Currawong’ they were telegraphing the mixture of musical styles that might be found on that album, from uptempo folk to spacious, evocative traditional country. There was no false advertising in either single, and Two Lovers is a poetic and majestic and also foot-stompingly entertaining collection of songs.
The 11 songs on the album explore the inner and outer worlds. Where ‘Currawong’ sprang from Humphreys’s close observation of the Australian bush, ‘Mescaline’ takes inspiration from Morris’s experiences of a different sort of plant life and his accompanying journey within. ‘Scare Myself’ is Humphreys’s piercing yet tender self-examination; ‘Soft Hearted Woman’ is her positioning herself within ‘a harsh old world’. There are songs of relationship as well as self, with Morris and Humphreys offering their own versions of their mutual story, reminding us that any situation can result in multiple intrepretations.
There are different moods and moments on this album: playful, pragmatic, sincere and hopeful. Each singer-songwriter would have brought their own but in the end this album is very much a joint enterprise. In each song, and across the arc of the album, Morris and Humphreys act as anchor in order to give the other the safety to roam and, in several places, soar. Each song musically gives space to the singer – or singers – to fully express what they want to bring to the listener. They don’t crowd each other, ever, and that allows us to truly hear them, and hear how they work together. What they also create is space around the moments that are truly heart-lifting in their beauty, and there are many of those. The overall impression, though, is of Eagle & the Wolf holding out their hands, together, offering us a precious gem. The way the light catches that gem will depend on the person perceiving it, but its valuable is undeniable, and it has been shaped – and offered – with love and respect.
Two Lovers is out now through Folk Mountain Records.