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Roy Schneider & Kim Mayfield

Reckless Saints – 2018 (Shiny Gnu)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Roy Schneider & Kim Mayfield

Roy Schneider and Kim Mayfield deliver a diverse sound they describe as "blue twangled folk 'n' roll" in their debut joint release. Though billed as a duo, Schneider is clearly the focal point, writing 8 of the 10 originals and handling lead vocals on all but 3 tracks. The set kicks off with the uptempo "Jump In," which demonstrates the instrumental skills of the duo, most prominently Mayfield on mandolin and Schneider on harmonica. Schneider cedes harmonica duties to Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie McCoy on the bluesy "Walkin' on a Wire," featuring some hot violin work from Kevin Aland.

One of Schneider's stronger compositions is "Angels Along the Road," an inspirational tale of a young traveler receiving help along his journey being urged to pay it forward ("Don't keep a kind gesture down in your pocket/Just pass it on down the line"). The folksy ballad "Poison Arrow" is reminiscent of contemporary folk acts such as The Lumineers or Mumford and Sons with nice harmonies from Schneider and Mayfield. Another standout track is "After the Storm," which documents the devastation of Hurricane Irma ("Hey would you mind helping me/Up on the roof here I got a half a tree").

Mayfield takes the lead vocal on her compositions "Ring Around the Moon," a sweetly sentimental ballad that looks back fondly on youthful romance featuring Robert Houghtaling on violin, and "Buddha Baby" driven by Scheider's resonator guitar and Rob Pastore's tasteful pedal steel work. Schneider's gloomy "If I Die Tomorrow" also features Mayfield on lead with the composer contributing harmony vocals. The lone cover is an effective take on Blaze Foley's "Election Day" with Gurf Morlix on lead guitar.

Produced by the duo and recorded at Schneider's studio in Fort Myers, Fla., the smart compositions, pleasant vocals and stellar performances make for an entertaining listen.