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Kacy & Clayton Kacy & Clayton
Album: The Siren's Song
Label: New West
Tracks: 9

This Canadian (Southern Saskatchewan) duo (comprising second-cousins Kacy Anderson and Clayton Linthicum) stunned me with their second record Strange Country around 18 months ago (I reviewed it here in August 2016), which displayed an acute sensibility with the mid-'60s zeitgeist that eagerly took in everything from the Carter Family to vintage psych-folk in soaking up obscure vinyl from obscure sources. The couple's strikingly intimate music-making gains another dimension with their followup release The Siren's Song, which came out a few months ago but has taken some time to reach me. Much in the manner of the duo's '60s counterparts-cum-role-models, we now find them "progressing" by embracing electric folk of the first-album-Fairport/early-Airplane variety (ok, without quite the commanding vocal presence of a Grace Slick or Judy Dyble, but Kacy's still an extraordinarily compelling singer with an amazing facility and effortless range, a siren in her own right and that's for sure).

And again, you could be forgiven for thinking you'd picked up a lost classic album that had been recorded in say 1967 or 1968, the spirit really is that strong (not to mention the distinctively retro styling of the artwork and package). And Clayton happens to be a pretty amazing dab hand on the electric guitar, as his stinging solos on several of the album's tracks prove. Even so, the weirder acoustic-based songs here like Cannery Yard also stick right there in the memory, this one not least for its bordering-on-eastern-sounding instrumental backing (guitar and violin); the disc's closer, Go And Leave Me, is the lone trad-arr, and delicately, beautifully realised it is too. In contrast, the sinuous lope of A Certain Kind Of Memory is another of the several tracks to feature the couple's gorgeous vocal harmonies alongside the electrics.

The import of the duo's self-penned songs is probably the biggest giveaway that they're contemporary creations, in their slightly cryptic examination of emotional matters (on opener The Light Of Day) and their portrayal of the effect of alienation (on This World Has Seven Wonders) in particular. The title track manages to be at once mesmerising and spine-chilling. The ostensibly simpler musical landscape of White Butte Country is probably an illusion, then, its lyric ostensibly bordering on country-rock cliché but with a cunning twist. Album production is by Wilko's Jeff Tweedy with an expert ear for the idiom and the vision, and the duo command some great rhythm section support from Shuyler Jansen and Mike Silverman. My one little problem with The Siren's Song is that it's all over too soon, and I feel that Kacy & Clayton may have taken the principle of economy of expression just a little too much to heart at times. But what we have here is superb, and the whole album grows in stature with each play.

David Kidman