David Lamb and MorganEve Swain's voices blend, move, wax and wane together like the grain in a fine cut of wood; they turn and travel in tandem like a school of wild horses traversing a wide and windy prairie.
It's the sort of musical telepathy that only the great acoustic Americana duos possess. And while the Rhode Island twosome is represented, recording-wise, by a stark, wind-blown and exceptionally fine 2011 album, Salt For Salt, it's in the live context that they are best experienced. Lamb plays guitar and banjo, and simultaneously thumps a bass drum using a foot pedal, while Swain is virtuostic on fiddle, cello and upright bass.
Fans of Iron & Wine, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, the Civil Wars, the Band and even Johnny & June will want to investigate this dynamic duo.
Yes, the influences are wide-ranging. As a matter of fact, Lamb and Swain - sweethearts and roomies - are card-carrying fans of the Georgia metal bands Mastodon and (until recently from Savannah) Baroness.
We spoke with Lamb on March 1.
"There's obviously some blues in there, but there's a lot of other roots music, early country and old-time. And stuff from all over the world -Eastern European, Greek music, klezmer ... plus we both have been steeped in a lot of rock ‘n' roll throughout our lives. There's all sorts of stuff making its way in there."
"Personally, there's things in the song structures of a lot of what Mastodon does that are pretty complex. And their musicianship is incredible. It's inspiring to listen to what they do. There may be songs like "Nothing Left" and "Shiloh" on the Salt For Salt album that may represent that a little bit. It may not be the kind of thing where you can really pinpoint the inspiration, but it definitely is stuff that we listen to a lot."
"When I started the band, it was just a solo project; when I moved to Maine some friends joined. We played together for about five years, but they also had their own band that they were focusing on. The Bottom of the Sea was more like a solo album, and I did some solo touring on that, and that's when I met MorganEve. She was playing in the band Barn Burning. We hit if off really well."
"There are just musical matches that work sometimes. We both have very similar interests in music in general. It's not often that you'll find somebody that will sit down and listen to a Willie Nelson record, and put on a Mastodon record next. And enjoy them both. And I think there's a kind of musician that has a certain amount of taste in what they bring to someone else's song, the wisdom of not over-playing and things like that. MorganEve absolutely has that. And we realized that with the combination of what we can do together, and what our goals and views of music are, we could make it pretty full-sounding with just the two of us."
9:30 p.m. Friday, March 9/Blowin' Smoke