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The Earnest Lovers

Sing Sad Songs – 2015 (Elko Record Co.)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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Too bad this is just a six-song EP, because the Portland, Ore. duo of Pete Krebs and Leslie Beia only begin to scratch the surface of their budding ability as a pair of country songbirds chirping sweet harmonies. Unlike much of the hype touting them as a Nashville throwback act, Krebs and Beia ring more true to the West Coast harmonies of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris than to George and Tammy.

No matter the comparison, they stand out vocally in what's a thriving country and folk scene in the Great Northwest that last year gave us Deer Lodge's deep and wonderful compilation tribute to George Jones (although surprisingly, Earnest Lovers did not appear on it).

Clearheaded production and ace musicianship provide a wonderful backdrop for their seamless vocals. The opening "San Andreas' Fault" and "No Songs Came By Today" are stone cold '70s Parsons and Harris while the chugging closer "Everybody's Trying to Be My Pal" recollects a bit of Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn with humming steel guitar and fiddle licks direct from '60s Bakersfield. But check out "Still Missing You"; it's the true showcase of their talents together.

The pair handles all the songwriting chores. And while the duets accentuate throughout, Beia sounds great (mostly) solo on "Angel of Sunrise." Male-female duets hold a special spot in country music. Whether chilling like Parsons-Emmylou doing "Love Hurts" or stomping through Conway and Loretta's "Louisiana Woman-Mississippi Man," it's a beautiful sound. Krebs and Beia are carrying the torch forward.