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The Watson Twins

Smoke Fire – 2008 (Vanguard)

Reviewed by Julie Drysdale

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CDs by The Watson Twins

Nearly two years after the release of their acclaimed collaboration with Jenny Lewis ("Rabbit Fur Coat"), the Watson Twins step out of Lewis' considerable musical shadow with this solid solo release. Leigh and Chandra Watson deliver a set of harmony-rich coffeehouse tunes that is both soulful and sweet.

Fire Songs" alternates between mid-tempo strummers (Dig a Little Deeper and Bar Woman Blues) and torchy ballads (How Am I to Be and Fall). The standout track is Sky Open Up, a transcendent ballad of love lost and hope found. There is also an ethereal cover of The Cure's Just Like Heaven.

The Watson Twin's smoky, bluesy voices are reminiscent of Natalie Merchant, and the supporting musicianship is strong, if somewhat unremarkable. While the 11 songs doesn't reach much beyond the boundaries of similar female alt.-folk offerings, "Fire Songs" grows deeper and more diverse at each listen.