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Sam Gleaves and Tyler Hughes (Community Music)
Passing The Den at one of the UK's biggest folk festivals this year, some of these songs beckoned and one felt instantly transported from the flat summer fens of Cambridge to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, through sound alone. This is a delightful album made up of fourteen songs that instantly appeal. Sam and Tyler work so well together as a duo, with a sense of the essential, rather than the overblown in their respective playing. You almost imagine this album to have been recorded direct from the back porch, as the cover photo suggests; the banjo and guitar interplay complementing the duo's dovetailed vocal harmonies throughout.
It's with little surprise that Sam and Tyler cite their parents and grandparents early on in the credits, for giving these musicians the grounding of a good Virginian home, from where much of this music derives. Although many of the songs sound traditional, for the most part the songs are from the pens of such memorable writers as Boudleaux Bryant (Well I Guess I Told You Off), Ola Belle Reed (Tear Down the Fences) and Maybelle Carter (Lonesome Homesick Blues).
It is however with their own material that the duo shine the most, such as Tyler Hughes' tender When We Love, a ballad that underscores the importance of love in troubled times, with a gentle reminder to those in power who often choose to forget such notions. Sam and Tyler's empathetic playing is certainly matched by their harmonious singing voices as they bring the essence of mountain music to a world audience.