NELL ROBINSON & JIM NUNALLY, HOUSE & GARDEN
Nell Robinson Music
By sheer coincidence, this duet album by Nell Robinson and Jim Nunally arrived shortly after reviewing a CD by Dix Bruce and Julie Cline. Bruce and Nunally are longtime duet partners who have released four recordings together, and it’s interesting to observe the different paths on which their new collaborations have taken them.
While the Bruce/Cline CD, Look At It Rain, leaned heavily on standards and was filled with instrumental interplay on guitar and mandolin, Robinson and Nunally have emphasized original material, with only three covers out of thirteen selections. The performances are also much more spare in texture, with only their two voices and Nunally’s solo guitar.
Their own album notes promise “music at the intersection of bluegrass, country, folk and Americana,” which is accurate and fair. Some of the songs evoke the old-time country tradition, most specifically the two tracks that bookend the album, “Life In The Garden” and “Home’s Where I Long To Be.” Others have a more introspective, parlor-folk quality, such as the plaintive “Pen In Hand,” “House,” and “The Gardener.”
As befitting a garden-themed CD, there is an organic, homegrown quality throughout, complete with a charming touch: an insert card infused with wildflower seeds that’s meant to be (and will be) planted in the listener’s own garden. As the real-life community gardens that Robinson and Nunally support often integrate a mix of native and non-native species, so does their music incorporate influences that both embrace and stray from traditional forms. But their closely intertwined harmonies and Nunally’s skillful guitar work make this as pleasant and refreshing as an afternoon spent tending your own little patch of land. (Nell Robinson Music, 32 Court St., Ste. 1600, Brooklyn, NY 11201, www.nellandjim.com.)HK