One needn't spend too much time with "Oh Darlin'" to gain insight into the musical foundation of this familiar duo.
Members of Sister Sadie, bluegrass stalwarts Dale Ann Bradley and Tina Adair's complementary voices blend and blur beautifully across their duo debut. Absent very select guest accompaniment, this exquisite, 10-track set resembles an acoustic, living room jam between trusted friends. Adair (mandolin and guitar) and Bradley (guitar) present a set of familiar tunes in pristine manner.
A song that isn't familiar is a recent Jefferson Ross and Thomm Jutz song, "Send Me." One of three gospel-themed numbers, this snappy tune should inspire singalongs while those who favor fancy guitar picking will appreciate (one presumes) guest Jim Hurst's efforts.
The O'Kanes' peppy and blue "Oh Darlin'" is the only song featuring bass (from Curtis Vestal, appearing on two additional numbers) and banjo (Scott Vestal), and this country hit from 1986 is ideally arranged by Bradley and Adair. More elaborate than the rest of the album, its arrangement is stellar, and Bradley cuts loose in the lead position.
Co-producing the album, the women set its musical path visiting classic country from Harlan Howard ("Pick Me Up on Your Way Down,") Eddy Arnold ("Mama, Please Stay Home With Me,") and Johnny Paycheck et al (Tammy Wynette's "Apartment #9.")
Most likely less familiar to the targeted audience is Reckless Kelly's Earlesque masterpiece, "Wicked Twisted Road," a choice selection further revealing Bradley and Adair's versatility. This is a wandering non-narrative, replete in emotion, wonder, and imagery reminiscent of "Me and Bobby McGee:" they absolutely scorch it. Also nicely featured are several less obvious Hank, Sr. songs, "The Singing Waterfall" and "The Log Train."
"Oh Darlin'" is the result of two attuned friends making music together, amiably. A little bit bluegrass and a whole lot of country. Beautiful, really.