Recording information: Gigantic Studios, New York City (01/2015).
Photographer: Doctor Sue.
Featuring the talents of guitarist/vocalists Jack Staffen and Eliza Callahan, New York duo Jack + Eliza are one part harmony vocal folk group and one part lo-fi indie rock band. Produced with subtle precision by Chris Zane (Passion Pit, St. Lucia, Penguin Prison), Jack + Eliza's debut album, 2015's Gentle Warnings, is a gorgeously minimalist yet somehow still lushly atmospheric album. Part of this dichotomy stems from Jack + Eliza's simple musical formula, which basically means they strum their electric guitars while singing thick resonant harmonies on some of the sweetest, most romantically dew-laden songs never to come out of the Brill Building in 1965. Although Jack + Eliza are literally just two people, and there are no pounding drums or gigantic band arrangements here, the impression Gentle Warnings leaves you with is definitely that of a rock band -- albeit one with warm sand in their toes and lovesick dreams on their minds. These are yearning songs delivered with a half-lidded, optimistic attitude. Smartly, Staffen, Callahan, and Zane do little to dress up Jack + Eliza's sound and instead focus on adding textures, like the subtle tambourine on "Quarter Past the Hour" and the fuzzy, perfectly timed guitar line that plays over "Diamonds." And while you sometimes have to listen hard to make out the lyrics -- as they are often doused in tube-amp echo and the pucker of a slapback Fender Stratocaster -- what Jack + Eliza are saying often doesn't matter as much as the sun-soaked romantic vibe. That might sound like style over substance, but it's not. On the contrary, Jack + Eliza write utterly hummable, heart-tugging melodies, and cuts like the Teenage Fanclub-esque "Oh No" and the lilting "Secrets" are, as with most of the songs on Gentle Warnings, unforgettable tunes that you want to play again and again. ~ Matt Collar