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Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt

For Keeps – 2014 (Red House)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt

One can only hope that the title of the album foresees things to come. The initial bow by the duo of husband and wife Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt comes across like a kind of kismet, two like-minded artists so in sync that it seems they've been blending their voices forever. And more importantly, like they'll continue to sing together as long as the fates allow.

Ultimately, there's no secret as to why "For Keeps" succeeds the way it does. There's no gimmickry, no hype, no frills and, happily, no spills. Elkin and Schmidt make it clear from the start their commitment is to the material, and from the opening bars of the robust, resilient "White Cloud," through to the final fade of the alluring "Girl in the Woods," that commitment is always evident. That quiet caress is intact throughout, a beguiling glow that sustains its spark and shimmer. Whether it's the easy and assured "Took It Like a Man," the celebratory sentiment of "Company of Friends," or any number of beautiful ballads that populate this wonderful record - "Kiss Me Now" and "If I Need To Know" being two among the many - these tunes resonate even on an initial encounter. It's a sound that suggests these songs might someday evolve into standards, and that for now at least, they're merely waiting in the wings.

Finally, credit Elkin and Schmidt with keeping matters simple and sincere. After all, in a world of shifting sentiment, heartfelt emotion is one of the few things that can be sustained. As evidenced by this humble yet powerful bow, it's clearly the thing this pair hold most dear. Thankfully, "For Keeps" is all the evidence we need.