The Watson Twins - Southern Manners
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Southern Manners (The Watson Twins, 2006)

The Watson Twins

Reviewed by Brian T. Atkinson

"I doubt if the texture of Southern life is any more grotesque than that of the rest of the nation," Flannery O'Connor told students at Notre Dame in 1957. Probably true. But there certainly is something in the southern air that seems to push an inquisitive spirit toward haunted storytelling.

Fifty years after O'Connor's speech, the Watson Twins prove on this eight-song EP that they share the famous author's gothic sensibilities and interest in the shadowed corners of lineage. Their sullen self-examination is immediately apparent. "All this terror in my life/Paints a picture of my slow and fading time," Leigh Watson sings on the opening "Friend and Foe." "Hardly noticed, hardly recognized that my sight had gone."

But where O'Connor would've allowed demons a pathway toward the opening, Chandra and Leigh Watson - who co-wrote all the tunes - offer plenty of fight toward redemption and light. Their soaring harmonies only help bolster the messages of hope and freedom.

Even rare moments of resignation are overshadowed by a fierce individualism. Take their gorgeous "Shoot the Lights Out." "If you tell me that you want me to be around, I think I'll stay/But if you bind me, I can't promise I won't run with the light of day."

At this point, the Watsons are best known as Jenny Lewis' backup singers. That shouldn't be the case for long. Songs like "High School" and the title track - both blends of their roots-music upbringing and the pop sensibilities of their current Los Angeles home - suggest their turn at center stage will come soon.

CDs by The Watson Twins

Holler, 2023 Smoke Fire, 2008 Southern Manners, 2006

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