The Laws,
Try Love
(independent, 2011)

Two Twenty Two,
Grass Routes
(independent, 2008)

I have heard of Two Twenty Two -- I believe the band once was signed to the Mississippi-based Fat Possum label -- but know practically nothing more, since the disc arrived without the promotional material that typically answers these questions. I can't find it on the Internet, which causes me to wonder, correctly or incorrectly, if it still exists. I can tell you, however, that Grass Routes is a respectable and listenable record, a collection of originals written mostly in a folk vein with, here and there, rock, pop and country touches.

Liner information suggests that Amanda Brewer and Warren Muzak, who evidently are (or were) Two Twenty Two, hail from Canada, where this disc was recorded. Some of it is recorded live, and some of it is more produced studio work. It sort of, as the saying goes, grows on you. Songs you missed the first time around (such as Muzak's "Hard Good Bye" and Brewer's "Passenger") rise to prominence from the sonic background. Occasionally, a song will just stay there; Muzak's "Bedroom" feels pretty much permanently like a standard-issue boring coffeehouse/singer-songwriter concoction. Still, most of the roads Routes takes the listener down arrive at a satisfactory destination.

Perhaps not so much with The Laws, who are not lawyers but John and Michele Law, a Canadian couple at whom one frankly can't help staring. He looks like a young Bill Clinton, she like a blond movie star. More important for our purposes, they sing with bluegrass-inspired harmonies that excite wonder and pleasure. The unhappier news is that this is a collection, all original but for Gordon Lightfoot's great "Wherefore & Why" (done smashingly, by the way), of what are known in the music industry as Positive Love Songs. Such should be applied sparingly under just about any imaginable circumstance. These are terrible.

One can't help wondering if the Laws, who have been touring the Canadian acoustic circuit for years, have made the decision to cash in. Maybe their intention is to sell a bunch of sappy country-pop ditties to Nashville, which eats up this kind of stuff. If not for that misjudgment, with their sweet singing and the enticing, mostly acoustic production (courtesy of music veteran J.P. Cormier), Try Love should be a whole lot more interesting than it turns out to be. Next time, let us hope, the Laws try something else.

music review by
Jerome Clark

30 April 2011

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

Click on a cover image
to make a selection.

what's new