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Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen

Duets – 2003 (Undertow)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen

This album comes titled, simply, "Duets,"and that's simply what it is. Husband and wife Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen are the principalsingers and songwriters in the fantastic Chicago band Dolly Varden.

This record strips away the textures provided by their band and fixes the focus on the duo's voices, which are accompanied by minimal instrumentation(simply acoustic guitar on six live cuts; the occasional addition of electricpiano, banjo and harmonica, and unobtrusively perfect touches of trumpetand slide guitar, on five studio tracks).

All of the songs, save a fine, walking version of Buck Owens' "Together Again," are Dawson originals with some new, some previously recorded. They're infused with an expansive notion of dueting that finds his emotive, reedy singing and Christiansen's captivating, husky vocal ache trading off leads and harmonies, supporting each other, coming together, intertwining, and trailing away. The result is a thing of shimmering, intense beauty. (Box 771247, St. Louis, MO 63177)