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Carrie Rodriguez and Ben Kyle

We Still Love Our Country – 2011 (Ninth Street Opus)

Reviewed by Jason MacNeil

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CDs by Carrie Rodriguez and Ben Kyle

Along with Romantica member Ben Kyle, singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez makes some fine duet Americana. And perhaps the best thing about the album - despite coming in at only eight songs - is that it sounds like it is a perfect fit. Rodriguez and Kyle's sweet delivery meld perfectly throughout, especially on the soft, but sugary Your Lonely Heart that ambles along perfectly.

However, even that pales compared to the standard Townes Van Zandt If I Needed You, with Kyle taking the first verse and then Rodriguez coming in to harmonize. While it doesn't have that little jump in its step the original does, the effort definitely brings to mind something Caitlin Cary and Ryan Adams might have tried during their Whiskeytown days.

From there, Rodriguez takes control on the catchy alt.-country jaunt Fire Alarm that is pretty much her song to sink or swim with. And she doesn't swim, but soars on the little three-minute nugget. Yet again, they one-up themselves with the absolutely adorable, slow and thoughtful Big Kiss that has Rodriguez sounding eerily like Kathleen Edwards circa "Failer."

While some might point to the fact that many of the songs are covers, the fact that Rodriguez and Kyle bring so much care to each tune far overshadows that small knock. A perfect example of this is Unwed Fathers by John Prine, which the duo sings just above a hushed whisper most of the time while My Baby's Gone is a mournful, old school country number.

To close, Kyle and Rodriguez opt to cover Love Hurts which falls a hair short of the original, but has enough passion and tenderness to make some hairs to stand on end, especially the longer it continues. Overall Emmylou and Gram would be proud of the effort, and most likely of most of this finely executed.