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My Darling Clementine

How Do You Plead? – 2012 (Five Head Entertainment)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by My Darling Clementine

My Darling Clementine is the working name for the duo made up of British artists Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish (who happen to be husband and wife), a project they conceived with the tradition of male-female country duets in mind. And while the results are not, as the accompanying press spam claims, "one of the best American country albums to be released in years," this is a very good record that gets better with repeated listening.

It may be the case that King and Dalgleish intended to evoke the sound of classic country duos (you know who they are) here. But they end up sounding much closer to a different pair of predecessors, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris - due to a sustained country-soul vibe (check out Going Back to Memphis and She Is Still My Weakness in this regard), and the way in which the slightly folky tinge in Dalgleish's singing recalls Harris - and they add stylistic touches of their own along the way as well.

In true duets fashion, back-and-forth between the two singers is a prominent feature of the record: sassy repartee in I Bought Some Roses, barb-trading set to a railroad beat in I Bought Some Roses, the two-become-one perspectives of The Other Half (which manages to nicely combine hard and soft country elements). Both (especially Dalgleish) turn out to have the vocal chops for their undertaking and, with the likes of Martin Belmont and Geraint Watkins lending a hand, they've got a superb band playing with them, too.

But the best thing about "How Do You Plead?" may be that it doesn't simply recycle the tradition at which it is casting a backwards glance, but contributes to that tradition as well.