The Sparrowses,
Lost Love: Songs of Murder & Trouble
(Chestnut Tree, 2007)

Instrumentally, they're pretty good. And the choice of tracks on Lost Love: Songs of Murder & Trouble is pure fun for anyone who enjoys a bloody knife or lonesome gallows in their countrified folk singin'.

The tone of the rest of this review depends largely on the Sparrowses' own level of self-awareness.

Because, let's face it, neither Davy Jay Sparrow nor Sarry Ann Sparrow can carry a tune. Or, if they can, they don't show it here.

I choose to believe the tunelessness on offer here is a purposeful decision -- an affectation, perhaps -- that the Sparrowses employ to emphasize their "down in the holler" good humor.

But their affectation -- or, bless their hearts, their actual inability to carry a tune -- only works on occasion. On "I Wish I was a Single Girl Again," for instance, it's a hoot. On the doleful "Long Black Veil," it's a torture. The rest of the tracks on this album fall somewhere in between, leaning heavily on unpleasanter side of things.

This kind of "cute" offkey singing, if that's what this is meant to be, only goes so far, and it only has a chance of working when the songs are, in fact, cute. "Veil," among others, is too somber for it to work. And if this truly is Davy Jay and Sarry Ann at their best -- well, folks, I hate to bear sad tidings, but you need yourselves a new lead singer for your band.

music review by
Tom Knapp

2 July 2011

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