Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
ohnny and June. Porter and Dolly. Tammy and George. Yes, country music has its share of highly successful male/female partners. And now, there's a new duo in town – Rod + Rodney.
They're not exactly newcomers to country music. The Rod is aka Rodney Atkins who's had more than his fair share of hits. Rose is his wife, Rose Falcon, who has enjoyed more acclaim as a writer than a performer.
On only their third live outing as a duo, Rod + Rodney may have entertained with the best of three worlds – his, hers and theirs.
The couple put out a five-song, eponymous EP earlier this year. And that was the basis for the show before an unfortunately smallish crowd of about 100. Each artist also had their own time in the spotlight with the other taking a break. That meant Atkins sang a bunch of his hits including "Caught Up in the Country" and "Farmer's Daughter" He later came back for "It's America," "Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)," "Watching You" (while claiming not to be a big talker, Atkins told a funny story about being told by his son's day care teacher that he was singing "Going Through Hell" at school, which Atkins had been working on at home. That night, he wrote "Watching You") and closing out with (there was no encore at the end of 90 minutes with "These Are My People."
Rod + Rodney started off with a few songs from the EP, "Being Here, Being There" and the lovely "Figure You Out." Atkins tended to take more of the leads with his slightly gritty voice, while Falcon kicked in with a pretty vocal delivery, adding welcome tones to the songs.
Although there was a definitive sadness to the personal stories of Atkins and Falcon (he said he bounced around as a kid and was adopted three times. Falcon, who is the daughter of long-time musician Billy Falcon, lost her mom when she was only four), there was an equally sense of uplift amidst the darkness.
Atkins started "Being Here, Being There" with the lines "If today was a train, it'd be off track/If it was a fish, I'd throw it back" before pledging "You can count on me being' here, being' there for you/Sell my truck, sell my soul/Hell, I'll bleed if you need me to I promise you."
"Figure You Out" (there's a wedding version of it, so you know it's ultimately positive) finds that love conquers all even if not in a straight line. "I'm thinking fastball, you throw me a change up/You're my favorite wonder of this world/I got a million crazy questions, girl/But only one I know the answer to/I wanna spend the rest of my life trying to figure out you."
Atkins may claim not to be a big talker, but he was also heartfelt. Introducing "My Life," he told the story of Rose's grandmother, who also had a tough life. Her final words: "I loved my life." Rod + Rose killed the ballad vocally.
Falcon, chattier than her husband, may be best known for having cowritten "Friday Night," recorded by Lady A before being a hit for Eric Paslay. She trotted out a few well-conceived songs, particularly "That Guy," a song written to her two young songs about how to act in life.
Rod + Rose spoke and sang about real life, not trucks and babes. It also helped that Jimmy Herman was on fiddle and banjo, providing a definitive country vibe throughout.
Rod + Rodney could not be placed in the pantheon of country music's greatest duos at this point, given that they've just started, but who knows? They could have competition from their contemporaries like Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd or Kelsea Ballerini and Morgan Evans, but no matter. Rod + Rose are poised to stand on their own four feet just fine.