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My Darling Clementine My Darling Clementine
Album: Still Testifying
Label: Continental
Tracks: 11

My Darling Clementine is the husband and wife musical partnership of Lou Dalgliesh and Michael Weston King. The latter was well known as an artist in his own rig, here in the U.K., then together the pair have gone on to release further albums. Perhaps the most unusual us far, was derived from the rather unexpected, yet wonderful, collaboration, titled The Other Half, with renowned British crime writer, Mark Billingham, who created a whole story based upon a number of the duo's songs. Genius.

In all honesty, what I love about this couple is that they don't follow a formula; rather, they write and play what they want and what they believe in. The result, as evidenced on Still Testifying, is a collection of songs which feels real and honest, simple, but striking. They are stories about real life and real people, to which wears listeners can relate. Songs which don't just disappear from memory after the last note has played.

The original plan was for Joe Henry to produce; however plans changed and the role fell to Neil Brockbank, which has produced for many, including the wonderful Tift Merritt and Nick Lowe. This CD sees them go for horns and strings rather than pedal steel, yet it still remains true to their now distinctive sound.

Some of the songs are brand new to everyone; Lou wrote the stunning Eugene Oregon after she fell ill en route to the city of Eugene on a USA trip with Michael and their daughter. There is clearly still a lot of emotion attached to those memories. In fact, a lot of this CD was written during that trip. Also written by Lou, Jolene's Song, in which she introduces of to the Jolene, fifty years later. Two Lane Texaco transports me back to numerous small USA towns I have visited, which although dying, carry echoes of what they once were and of other, better, times. Butte, Montana is the first that comes to my mind.

Equally striking, however, are the songs familiar to those of us who have seen or heard The Other Half. I wasn't sure how they would stand up against the new songs, but they are exceptional as songs in their own right. Friday Night, Tulip Hotel, is likely my favourite song ever written by them. It just gives me goosebumps every time. They penned it in a car outside a Tulip Hotel in Europe (many of us know their reputation!) after watching a couple exit the hotel and separate to different cars, early one morning. I wonder if they'll ever know this stunning song is partly their story?

Similarly The Embers and The Flames stands out as a beautiful song about a dying relationship as does the more upbeat Tear Stained Smile.

Honestly, I haven't had a CD in my CD player so much in a while, which itself speaks volumes about this release. Whether you are new to My Darling Clementine, or have their back catalogue, this album is a must; indeed, in my opinion, this is the album of their careers.

Helen Mitchell