Black Music Matters Festival

Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell

Begonias – 2005 (Yep Roc)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell

Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell may not make you forget George and Tammy anytime soon, (but then, who could?), but any release that helps to maintain the country duets tradition qualifies as a good thing. In this case, there's also the hand-in-glove fit of the singers' voices, and the rapport built through an ongoing, catch-as-catch-can collaboration between Cary and Cockrell over the past few years.

Some of what results sounds like where the two have been before: "Second Option" and "Whatever You Want" have a Whiskeytown country-rock vibe about them, while "Party Time" is the sort of hard shuffle that strives for Cockrell's professed aim of "putting the hurt back in country."

Elsewhere the pair do some re-styling, to stunning effect, on a version of "Please Break My Heart" (which first appeared on Cary's second solo record) that's countrified in the direction of gauzy, Patsy Cline country pop. Almost as good are a country soul treatment of the Percy Sledge classic "Warm and Tender Love" and the cool California country of a song that's almost as long as its title, "Conversations About a Friend (Who's In Love With Katie)." This is an easygoing, charming album, the sort that grows on you rather than grabbing you right off.