Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I love it when a plan comes together.  And I love it when talent blooms.  You know those precocious high school kids who show so much promise so early, obviously skilled, natural musicians who make your own kids look like schlubs playing video games all day in the basement?  Ya, I got three of the latter.  Meanwhile, about three years back I ran into aspiring singing duo Dawn and Marra in Hamilton, On.  Still kids, they were in the talent contest (which they won) and obviously were keen on a career in music already.  Not some instant win Idol thing either, they wanted to be taken seriously.

Their music was modern folk, acoustic and pretty much what you'd expect, nice melodies and vocals, harmonies and teenage takes on bigger topics.  They were clearly talented, quite charming, and in that rather large city of a half-million, and close to a really big city, they were standing out.  Over the next couple of years, each time I checked in, they had done more;  some recording, lots of gigs, some traveling to play out of town.  But I kinda thought they'd stay much like I first saw them, with the nice melodies and folk-acoustic sound, and the harmonies, etc.

Ya, well.. guess again, Bob.  After an initial recording that did stick to that folk sound, this true debut is a real revelation.  Now 20 (Dawn) and 18 (Marra), Teaspoons and Tablespoons sees them blossom with new sounds, a mature set of lyrics, and an image that brings them into the vanguard of modern, vibrant performers.  Incorporating an intricate vocal blend and a surprising mix of instruments, the songs leave folk at the door, and wander into a big world of possibilities.  At the core are their voices, the unison and harmony singing they've been developing over the years, but now to hear the melodies fleshed out with off-kilter arrangements and inspired production choices is jarring in the best way.

Working with Vancouver producer Howard Redekopp (Tegan and Sara, New Pornographers, Said The Whale) seems to have been the key, a sympathetic ear ready to suggest and experiment.  Said The Whale join on several tracks, and Dawn and Marra found a new energy to their singing, trying on pop tricks and lots and lots of vocal blends.  It's pretty rare to hear so much harmony and unison singing, with very few spots where they aren't both singing.  It's even more rare to enjoy it so much, these two really are perfect together.

It's funny, I almost wish I didn't know the back story, and I'm questioning whether I needed to mention it.  I guess I just wanted to say how far they've come in three years, and let you know what went into all this, the hard work and development.  Anyone coming to them new should be impressed, and intrigued at what can happen when acoustic folk gets a youthful shot of energy.

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