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Riddle & The Stars Riddle & The Stars
Album: New Coastline
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 10
Website: http://www.riddleandthestars.com

A collaboration between California-based husband and wife duo Bobbo and Tracy Byrnes, The Fallen Stars and Australian singer songwriter Ben Riddle, with the addition of Brandon Allen on drums this is mid-80s West Coast soft rock, not too far removed from Mirage-era Fleetwood Mac, notably so "Long Way Down" which, like album opener "Running Back To You" and the yearning Gram Parsonsish "Tracks" features Riddle on lead vocals. Bobbo's sandwiched in between on the organ backed "I May Never Know", his voice having slightly more of an edge that suits the driving rhythm, while Tracy gets to take lead on the bluesily narcotic sparse and moody "Apples & Knives" as well as a rework of an earlier Fallen Stars number, "Valentine's Day" with its Americana flavours and pedal steel.

There's a campfire feel to Bobbo's rendition of John Prine's "Mexican Home" which features harmonica and Matt Froehlich on cajon, while, elsewhere, Tracy on harmonies, Riddle recalls camping down in Devon the fingerpicked acoustic "New Coastline", while all three voices come together for the jogging alt-country "When We Ride", Tom Bremer adding lead guitar to augment the pealing pedal steel. Closing up with the keeningly sung acoustic strum of "When The Weight Is Gone", it may mark no milestones or reinvent any wheels, but it's a pleasantly listenable affair that should amply satisfy fans of the genre.

Mike Davies