Parker and James are Baton Rouge singer-songwriters whose separate careers have twined for this EP. Written together, and sung in tight harmony, the pair sounds as if they’ve been duetting since childhood. Though built mostly on folk-styled acoustic guitars, the melodies, mood and Paul Buller’s pedal steel give the album a country edge. The EP combines five originals with an arrangement of the traditional “Moonshiner.” The latter has been a staple of the folk scene since the early ‘60s, and Parker and James’ arrangement brings to mind Simon and Garfunkel’s debut album with both their harmonies and the fragility of James’ solo flights.
The duo’s original material includes the bluesy “Showboatin’,” whose clever descriptions evoke Richard & Mimi Farina’s “Hard Lovin’ Loser.” There are disrupted relationships in “Come Back” and “What it Knows,” with the latter offering a country reflection of the last chance confusion of Great Big World’s “Say Something.” The set closing “After the Smoke Clears” carries a similar mood of dissolution, magnified by the emotional resonance of the paired singing. The quality of Parker and James’ work was certainly foreshadowed by their solo outings, but the charisma of their duets is uniquely mesmerizing. [©2016 Hyperbolium]