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My Darling Clementine

The Reconciliation? – 2013 (Five Head Entertainment)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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Admittedly, it's played as tongue-in-cheek. And yet, that's the essence of its charm. As a result, on only their second album, My Darling Clementine - aka the English duo Lou Dalgleish and Michael Weston King - prove just how adept they are at churning out authentic sounding countrypolitan laments, possessing just the right amount of tears to blend with their beers.

Masquerading as a couple on the verge of divorce, Dalgleish and King ham it up with dicey humor and feigned humility, sounding for all the world like George and Tammy playing out their problems in public. It's all shtick of the highest degree, but the material reflects the craft that went into its composition, yielding songs that sound like country classics even on first hearing. Unhappy Ever After (with special guest Kinky Friedman) offers some hilarious dialogue that distills the essence of supposed anger and resentment. Yet, that's merely a precursor of things to come.

From that point on, the tug of war between the couple continues unabated, with selections like No Heart in This Heartache, I Can't Live With You (When You Can't Live With Yourself), Leave the Good Book on the Shelf, No Matter What Tammy Said (I Won't Stand By Him), and Let's Be Unhappy each attesting to the anguish that results from cheap love affairs, cheating spouses and excessively indignant demands.

Unabashedly hokey and clearly played for laughs, the pair's cornball crooning still manages to provide ample hooks and a fair share of compelling choruses. Breaking up may be hard to do, but hell, "The Reconciliation?" is nothing less than a hoot and a half.