It is hard to imagine two more captivating vocalists than Kacy Lee Anderson and Marlon Williams. And though they live more than 8,000 miles apart — she and cousin Clayton Linthicum in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Williams in Christchurch, New Zealand — it was their voices that compelled them to come together in 2018 to collaborate on an album. Over three weeks, Williams joined Anderson and Linthicum, better known as the duo Kacy & Clayton, to write and record Plastic Bouquet, which they went on to finish last year in Nashville. The trio proved to be a natural fit, with Anderson and Williams combining their haunting, otherworldly vocals with Linthicum’s earthen guitar playing.
Plastic Bouquet is filled with lush, atmospheric country-western tunes that smoothly meld Williams and Anderson together. Listening to them harmonize and trade off on lead vocal duties is like watching some hypnotic dance. Williams croons on love songs like the pedal steel heartbreaker “I Wonder Why” and the devotional “Light of Love.” Anderson’s signature dreamy, pastoral tone overlaps on the latter and on the gorgeous standout “Arahura,” and she takes the lead on tunes like “Old Fashioned Man” and “Isn’t It.”
The songs on Plastic Bouquet tell rich stories of unrequited love, dark folk tales, and timeless intrigue and adventure. On the album’s title track, a kind of up-tempo murder ballad, Anderson sings of the tragic killing of three girls “by a boy they all knew,” and the cross by the highway with a plastic bouquet to mark the “spot where their mothers have all stopped to pray.” It is a novelistic nightmarish story wrapped in the beauty of their harmonies. Things take a personal turn on “I’m Unfamiliar,” wherein Anderson asks Williams on a walk in the freezing cold, “Could you tell me what the winter’s like down in the Southern Hemisphere?” And on album closer “Devil’s Daughter,” we hear them chatting in the studio before they begin singing sweetly together with just a warped acoustic guitar melody to back them. Such a tune makes it easier to imagine what a live show might be like for this record, a record made simply out of mutual admiration, just for the purpose of creating a nice thing. A little spot of a light in a heavy time.