THE DUTCHESS & THE DUKE
[Rating: 4 stars]
With She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke, Jessie Lortz and Kimberly Morrison surprised music fans, releasing one of the most captivating albums in 2008. Rag-and-bone production drove dark songwriting steeped in early Stones and tagged with categorizations like “campfire punk.” Some of these elements still resonate on Sunset/Sunrise, but from the opening notes of “Hands,” a track with grab-you-by-the-shirt-and-pull-you-close power, one senses that Lortz and Morrison took a more formal approach to recording this time around. Soaring string arrangements, massive drum swells, majestic piano breakdowns—even ambulance sirens—are found on the duo’s second release. The Dutchess & the Duke utilize these new tricks beautifully—rarely do the bells and whistles cloud the exposed heart that made their debut so memorable. “New Shadow” is a perfect example; sing-a-long guitar and saltshaker rhythm duels with ragtime piano and ebullient xylophone, an absolutely believable amalgamation from one of today’s most convincing bands.