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Hannah Sanders and Ben Savage - Before the Sun (Sungrazing Records)

Star rating: 
4

As Hannah Sanders and Ben Savage embark on their first tour together as a duo, rather than Ben just backing up Hannah on guitar and dobro, the first thing you might notice is the closeness of their performances on stage. Standing almost attached at the hip, a single microphone positioned midway between their instruments and their voices, it's impossible to imagine a more intimate performance outside the realms of Kris and Rita back in the early 1970s. Some of this is evident in the songs on their debut duo album, an album so delicately capturing each gentle note and vocal nuance, that it's difficult to imagine listening to one without the other. With their contrasting voices, Hannah and Ben adapt traditional material with convincing effectiveness, especially on such as Lady Margaret and Come All Ye Fair and Tender Maids, but also on their two original co-writes, The Fall (Hang) and What's Tonight My Love? Bob Dylan's Boots of Spanish Leather is such a great dialogue ballad that it seems impossible to fail with the quality of those lyrics. Hannah and Ben make it a theatrical event, with each becoming protagonists as the gentle drama unfolds. David Travis-Smith's production keeps the instruments crisp and clear, as the two voices organically meander and mingle, dropping in and out of focus where appropriate. This is a late evening album that should ideally be accompanied by good wine and subdued light.    

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky