Colvin & Earle aren't George Jones and Tammy Wynette, nor are they Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. No, they're not a classic duet partnership, where two voices come together in perfect harmony, like a choir in a Coca-Cola commercial. Instead, they're two fiercely independent singer/songwriters and also a few of the last hardcore troubadours.
Produced by fellow troubadour Buddy Miller, "Colvin & Earle" is about three-quarters singer/songwriter songs and a quarter much-loved covers. These two artists light it up with "Tobacco Road," get their Stones on with "Ruby Tuesday," tip their hats to Emmylou Harris for "Raise the Dead" and dust off a folkish favorite, "You Were On My Mind." With "Ruby Tuesday," it's surprising to hear how much of Mick Jagger's vocal snottiness Earle is able to conjure up.
Earle and Colvin collaborated on the gentle "The Way That We Do," show off a light-hearted side with "Happy and Free" and get down and dirty for the moody "You're Right (I'm Wrong)." The latter has all the drama of a '70s heyday Fleetwood Mac. Although both artists sing it, this one is a perfect fit for Earle and features some strong guitar twang, a little violin and a hurricane Earle harmonica solo.
The album closes with the sadly regretful "You're Still Gone." On a song the pair co-wrote with Julie Miller, they sing at one point, "Everybody looks like you." It's a song that chronicles the very worst moments after a breakup, and these two sing it tearfully over strummed acoustic guitars.
Although it's highly unlikely Colvin & Earle will go down as one of the great country music duos, fans of their individual talents will almost certainly get a kick out of their recorded performances together.