This Seattle based quintet recently did a show where they played Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album in its entirety, but don’t hold that against them. Still, it gives you an idea of the intriguingly but somewhat misleadingly named Vaudeville Etiquette’s influences which range from rootsy, tuneful California pop to the male/female harmonies that still click when Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham share a microphone.
Front couple/multi-instrumentalists Taylor Lynn and Bradley Laina write the songs and sing them, either together or separately and often both, on this full length, primarily acoustic debut. The music flows with a rustic Southern vibe and when they hit a warm groove as on “Devil’s Daughter” with Matt Teske’s wicked pedal steel sounding like Duane Allman’s slide, percussive handclaps and the singers working as one, it’s an inspired East Coast meets West Coast musical mix. Veteran Seattle producer Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Mark Lanegan, Tuatara) not only mans the board but signed them to his Sunyata label. He keeps the songs tight yet adds oblique angles with strings, vibes, accordion and even kazoo. First single “Blood & Bone” sports a peppy “Ho Hey” Lumineers’ thump in a “Hey! Hey!” break and is nearly as ear candy worthy. But VE brings a more gospel, country edge that makes it a terrific example of everything this band has going for them. Tracks such as “Red Harvest Moon” and “Abilene” sound like their titles as they shimmer with a sweet country western breeze. Lynn has a wonderfully expressive voice even if when she digs into her part on the moody duet “Enemy Lines,” the similarities to Neko Case are unmistakable. Ripples of jazz lift the sweet “Oh” but the approach can also turn dark as on the self-explanatory Tom Waits tango stomp of “Six Feet Deep.”
By the final track, the haunting “Down to the Alley,” no one will mistake Vaudeville Etiquette for Fleetwood Mac or the Lumineers. Nor would they deny that this impressive debut seems to just scratch the surface of the group’s diversity and creativity.