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The Quiet American

Songs from a Rocking Chair – 2014 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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In an age when many young acoustic musicians versed in traditional forms of music tend more and more to "evolve" toward the more contemporary and complex end of the spectrum, it's something of a refreshing surprise to encounter one heading in the opposite direction. After almost a decade as part of the popular Colorado roots-oriented band Boulder Acoustic Society, newly married Aaron Keim and his bride, Nicole, picked up stakes and set down new roots along the Columbia River in Oregon, simplifying their lives and their music in the process.

Recording as The Quiet American (though yes, there are two of them), "Songs From A Rocking Chair" seems clearly intended to sound as if that were literally true, and that's an integral part of the disc's charm. "Fire In The Sky," for example, is one of several cuts featuring duet singing backed only by Aaron's clawhammer banjo. The harmony is simple and unadorned, as befits the deep-roots nature of the material.

Some, like "Starry Crown" and "Mobile Line" are traditional, while "Worth A Million" and "Carved Into My Heart" are Aaron Keim originals that are sympathetic to tradition. Stephen Foster's "Hard Times" is sung by Nicole Keim plaintively, nicely letting the song, as the phrase goes, tell her where it needs to go.

It's all as if we're sitting on the Keims' front porch sharing an evening of music among friends, and that's probably exactly what they were aiming at.