Wistful lyrics and boisterous music are almost always a winning combo, and on She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke (out now on Hardly Art), the Dutchess and the Duke have mixed all those elements with some excellent musical influences from the likes of Dylan, the Stones and the Mamas and the Papas.  They sings songs about lovers’ regrets, underpinned by aching optimism. On some tracks we hear no more than a guitar, a tambourine, and the harmonies of frontman Jesse Lortz and his childhood friend and collaborator Kimberly Morrison; on others the duo is accompanied by a flute, sitar, or congas – instruments reminiscent of the White Album or the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black.”

YouTube Preview ImageThe Dutchess and The Duke- Back To Me

Standout track “The Prisoner” is a foreboding tale that will make you shudder, or just want to clutch your lover. The next track, “Back to Me,” completely changes tone, and jumps back another decade to recall Roy Orbison and the earnest love songs of the 50s. It’s a recollection of heartbreak, infused with innocence and nostalgia. “I am Just a Ghost” is a beautiful ballad orchestrated around that familiar, haunting series of chord changes from Pachelbel’s Canon – and updated to evoke a depressing sense of modern malaise.

YouTube Preview ImageThe Dutchess and The Duke- Out of Time

Lortz and Morrison’s vocals and Pixies-like harmonies – intentionally flat, sometimes even blasé, keeps the sound from becoming too precious or directly mimicking the band’s influences. It would be interesting to hear Morrison further develop her voice, as a counterpoint to Lortz’s Mick Jagger-y vocals. Hopefully her voice will become more nuanced over the course of the next several albums – which I can’t wait to hear! I’m keeping my eye on this band, and I’m definitely going to check them out at the Echo on November 10th. – Megan Blanchard



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