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Paved Country (Self-released, 1998)

Paved Country

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

Paved Country is the Boston-based duo of Marjie Alonso and Sarah Mendelsohn, whose singing and country-folk sound invoke comparisons to The Sweethearts of the Rodeo. Their self-titled release features a generous collection of jointly-penned songs, and their collaborative songwriting efforts are clearly informed by an aim of providing vehicles for their duet singing.

There are two distinctive voices here, Mendelsohn with a high, reedy timbre and Alonso comparatively low and throaty; they share equally in singing leads, but more than that, they sing together, whether in harmony or in trading or interweaving lines. The songs are concerned mainly with endless permutations of matters of the heart, and they succeed admirably, though not entirely, in addressing the familiar while avoiding the hackneyed - witness "Shooting Star," a poignant recognition of love gone cold, or the gorgeous "I Could Have Done That."

While the focus is on the singing and songs of Alonso and Mendelsohn, they are backed throughout by supportive and tasty playing. It may be a bit rough in places, but local gems like this are always worth discovering. ( or Marjie Alonso, 15 Westwood Road, Somerville, MA 02143.

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