The combination of classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein and alt.country singer-songwriter Tift Merritt might seem odd, but each complement the other in this impressive exploration of mood and meaning. The sound is skeleton, replete with echo and the charm of acoustic guitar, piano and harmonica. Against this stark setting, the duo set about creating a monochrome soundscape of delicate instrumentals and intense songs, mainly from Merritt’s pen, though an eclectic mix (Patty Griffin, Franz Schubert, Billie Holiday etc) is also enlisted. Merritt holds her nerve and the notes, laden with dark passion, flow. Dinnerstein’s playing is elegant and reserved; a little more from her would have been welcome. The only slightly false note is The Cohen Variations, based on Suzanne, which sounds weirdly like the tune to Wanderly Wagon.
Download: Feel of the World, Night and Dreams