The Spinners

She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke (The Dutchess and the Duke, 2008)

In Folk, Indie American, Rex Baylon on January 8, 2010 at 6:34 am

With the culmination of yet another decade it is only natural to try to define what the collective zeitgeist of the 2000’s was. If the 30’s was the Swing era, the 60’s the Psychedelic Rock era, the 70’s the advent of the Punk movement, and the 90’s the Grunge era, then it would be appropriate to call the first decade of the millennium the Folk era. Of course those familiar with music history may comment that the folk genre since the middle of the 20th century has always been a popular style of music, but only in the noughties has the folk genre mutated and evolved into so many disparate forms.

One subgenre that has caught the public’s attention is garage-folk, epitomized by Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison who are collectively known as The Dutchess & The Duke. The Seattle-based group plays a brand of folk that evokes not only the bluesy twang of The Rolling Stones or The Kinks but also the lyrical poetry of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. And in fact, in their debut album, She’s The Dutchess, He’s The Duke, the duo is reminiscent of a young Dylan and Baez with each track showcasing Lortz’s untamed gravelly voice and Morrison’s lilting and intimate vocals.

“Reservoir Park”, the titular single off their debut, announces to the world with the clapping of hands and bluesy acoustic riffs that The Dutchess & The Duke have arrived. Then, before you can recover, they stretch their folk rock muscles with “Out Of Time”, a track that would have made John Hartford proud. And Leonard Cohen circa Songs From A Room even pops up on the tracks “Ship Made Of Stone” and “The Prisoner”. Lortz and Morrison even duplicate the irreverence and deceptive simplicity of The Velvet Underground with the songs “Back To Me” and “Armageddon Song”.

No one knows where this new decade will take us musically, but it is safe to assume that The Dutchess and The Duke will play an active role in defining it.

– Rex Baylon

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