Recording information: M & P Studio, Austin, TX; Studio D, Sausalito, CA; The Site, Marin County, CA.
Photographers: Barry Toranto; Bill Ellison; Aaron Winters; Henry Hungerland.
Bill Kirchen crossed paths with keyboardist Austin DeLone many times over the years. The first time they played together was in the Moonlighters, a band they formed while they were taking a busman's holiday from their main gigs -- Kirchen played with Commander Cody, De Lone co-led Eggs Over Easy -- and Kirchen often hired DeLone to play on his records, but 2016's Transatlantica is the first time they've recorded a duet album. Given their long history, it's no surprise that Transatlantica feels as comfortable as an old sweater, a record cut by old friends who don't care to fight for the spotlight. They're happy to share credit -- not only are the lead vocals evenly matched, but "Hounds of the Bakersfield," the first song out of the gate, is a tribute to Merle Haggard -- and that camaraderie is appealing; the weathered chemistry is palpable. Another benefit of old pros playing their favorite music together is that their chemistry is subtle and never showy. The two ease into their solos without calling attention to their technique, they move from hardwood honky tonk shuffles to rockabilly boogies without missing a beat. From the start of their careers, Kirchen and DeLone both looked to the past for inspiration, finding ways to enliven traditional sounds, and Transatlantica is merely another chapter in this journey: it may be familiar but it sounds fresh and it's one hell of a good time. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine