“Country Darkness Volume 1” launches through Fretsore Records on October 11th as an introduction to a wider project under the same premise from husband and wife duo My Darling Clementine in collaboration with Steve Nieve. The project as beautifully demonstrated by this initial 4 track EP explores the duo interpreting a number of songs previously recorded by a man that Nieve has spent over 40 years working with and is one of the most decorated musicians the UK has ever known. As a member of The Attractions and subsequently The Imposters, talking about Nieve is almost automatic when encountering the music of Elvis Costello and this is the music which is being explored in the form of country duets by Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish.
This EP and the overall project with Nieve was produced by King and Colin Elliott who the duo had previously worked with on their acclaimed sophomore record ‘The Reconciliation’ and acts as the follow up to their last country centred record ‘Still Testifying’ which they released back in 2017 and brings a beautiful and unique account of some of the tracks from the extensive Costello songbook that may not be as widely heard as they should be.
The 4 tracks are all songs Costello was involved in that have a connection or dynamic fitting for country or what is regarded as modern day Americana music. Leading in with the chilling piano solo by Nieve before the duo trade vocals and share harmonies for ‘Heart Shaped Bruise’ which as a breakup ballad acts as both a great introduction to the project in addition to the way these two vocals intertwine together so beautifully.
This is followed by ‘Stranger in the House’ a track that Costello had specifically written with George Jones in mind and the pair recorded it as part of Jones’s 1978 ‘My Very Special Guests’ collaboration album which the way the harmonies of My Darling Clementine make it retain the classic beauty of the song, having the female vocal aspect in the duet really brings a wonderful perspective to the song.
The penultimate and final tracks on the EP ‘ That Day is Done’ and ‘I Felt the Chill Before the Winter Came’ are both more traditional sounding country songs and themes that are a perfect fit to demonstrate Costello’s connection to the genre that were originally recorded and collaborated by him along with Paul McCartney and Loretta Lynne respectively. The vocal dynamic from King and Dalgleish is a perfect fit for both of these songs and just highlights their individual vocal prowess in addition to the majestic classic yet relevant sound they deliver as a duo.
This is a very intriguing project to bring some classic Elvis Costello numbers that may be forgotten or undiscovered into the ever growing Americana scene that is done beautifully and gracefully in a way that will open up the songs of a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to a new audience whilst highlighting their position as one of the most talented duos within the UK’s fastest emerging genre.