Personnel: Hans Theessink (vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmonica); Terry Evans (vocals, guitar).
Audio Mixer: Andrew Bush.
Liner Note Author: Hans Theessink.
Recording information: Grandma's Warehouse, Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA.
Photographers: Andrey Bayda; Milica Theessink.
The follow-up to the European-American duo's 2008 release Visions is a similarly styled, stripped-down set of acoustic blues, gospel, and soul covers, with some Theessink originals. Evans' old employer Ry Cooder swings by this time to contribute his distinctive guitar to three tracks. Since Theessink's sound has typically shared a comparable sense of the organic spaciousness that characterizes much of Cooder's work, the resulting music is a terrific meeting of the minds. It's so good on Theessink's subtle "Shelter from the Storm" (not the Dylan tune), especially with a male backing trio of vocalists (also inspired by Cooder's work), that you wish the two would record an entire album together. Theessink and Evans nail a sweet spot with their voices on the classic Delmore Brothers' "Blues Stay Away from Me" where just skeletal guitar and Cooder's always tasteful slide fills are all the song needs to resonate long after the last note fades. Evans and Theessink even bring fresh life to the slight but catchy Jewel Akens mid-'60s pop hit "The Birds and the Bees," with the guitarist picking up mandolin for a frisky and classy version of what most would consider an insignificant piece of fluff in its original version. Evans turns in yet another gripping version of J.B. Lenoir's "Down in Mississippi," a song he has sung both with Cooder and solo for decades. He slides into tough Southern soul on a cover of the James Carr classic "Pouring Water on a Drowning Man," singing tenor with Theessink's deep bass voice adding harmonies. The closing ten-minute "Mississippi," another tune about Evans' birthplace, is an upbeat folk-blues with churchy overtones and a stomping R&B backbone that effectively coalesces the previous dozen slices of roots Americana as Theessink does a roll call of famous musicians who were born in the state -- and oddly some that weren't -- with Evans howling in appreciation. The session is predominantly live with just a few guitar overdubs, and the sheer joy of playing together is contagious as it electrifies a vibe that thrives on its laid-back, down-home groove. ~ Hal Horowitz