The Dutchess is Kimberly Morrison and the Duke is Jesse Lortz. The two have been playing together for years, but it wasnâ€™t until they struck out on their own in The Dutchess And The Duke that their creative music abilities came full circle. Sheâ€™s The Dutchess And Heâ€™s The Duke is an album mixing lo-fi folk elements (but not too much so) with 70s folk melodies.
The album title is fitting for the group, being a male/female duo. Hinting of decades-past, like label-mates Arthur & Yu, the acoustic guitar has a hefty strum and the mix of hand-claps and tambourine live true to folk pop. The album opens with the immediately catchy Duke fronted â€œReservoir Parkâ€, full with both hand-claps and tambourine slaps. The acoustic guitar, as quickly becomes apparent throughout the album, has a deep sound thanks to hefty strums.
The Dutchess And The Duke crafts songs that blend the sounds of unique acts like Tilly And The Wall with those of power duos like White Stripes. Where he took the lead in â€œReservoir Parkâ€, the following tune brings the two members together for harmony vocals on â€œOut Of Timeâ€. While he takes the lead more than she, Morrison does make her voice prominent throughout the album, generally more as a harmony part to Lortz or blending in a repeat lyric or alternate lyric to Lortzâ€™s lead.
They’re not without their unique songs or their vulgarity, as found on â€œStrangersâ€: You fucked me in the phone booth / You know you took me by surpriseâ€¦ Maybe weâ€™re not strangers after all.
Like opening tune â€œReservoir Parkâ€, tunes like â€œThe Prisonerâ€ and â€œBack To Meâ€ act as a major high point on Sheâ€™s The Dutchess And Heâ€™s The Duke. Many tunes fit the label, but these are the most prominent and catchy of the bunch. â€œThe Prisonerâ€ sits on the darker side of folk and the flute that enters about a third of the way in adds to the songâ€™s dark beauty. â€œBack To Meâ€ initially draws comparison to â€œHurricaneâ€ by Dylan. There are similarities both in guitar and Lortzâ€™s vocal patternâ€”he even goes as far as sounding Dylan-esque.
The flute returns in â€œYou Can Tell The Truth, Nowâ€, a tune thatâ€™s a bit on the softer side thanks to the lack of full guitar strums. Both members tone back their usual vocals for something a bit quieter. â€œI Am Just A Ghostâ€ is the climax song on the album. It’s slow, but there are moments where the guitars dive into double-time – itâ€™s here in double-time, when the lo-fi folk-y guitar solo bursts through the speakers, then immediately after, when the vocals bust out, that the song reaches anthem-like power. The duo belts out the title in lengthy words: And Iâ€¦ amâ€¦ justâ€¦ a ghostâ€¦
â€œArmageddon Songâ€, contrary to the title, is the cool-down track. But it does enjoy a moment in the sun with catchy, upbeat guitar parts and a little whistling too. Sheâ€™s The Dutchess And Heâ€™s The Duke is another winning album for the newly formed Sub Pop subsidiary label Hardly Art. Hardly Art proves they know what theyâ€™re doingâ€”both Arthur & Yu and Le Loup have pumped out phenomenal albums of late and the label has done it again with The Dutchess And The Duke.
This review was originally published July 7, 2008 on the old version of FensePost.
The Dutchess And The Duke: Reservoir Park [mp3]
[audio:090224_the_dutchess_and_the_duke_-_reservoir_park.mp3|titles=Reservoir Park|artists=The Dutchess And The Duke]
Hardly Art [CD, 2008]
1. Reservoir Park
2. Out Of Time
3. Ship Made Of Stone
5. The Prisoner
6. Back To Me
8. You Can Tell The Truth, Now
9. I Am Just A Ghost
10. Armageddon Song