March 11, 2010

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McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Time for Leaving
Magnetic Records, March 9

This not-crazy-unusual pairing of Camper van Beethoven bassist Victor Krummenacher and Sippy Cups’ Alison Faith Levy will only surprise listeners unfamiliar with them both. The rest of humanity will probably wonder what the fuss is about, as these songs — mostly sleepy, unplugged, nicely produced Americana — sound as if anyone could have pulled them off. Right, right, anyone with Krummenacher’s seasoned Chris Martin-like voice, that is, but the chick parts from Levy are so nondescript-honky that you could persuade anyone she’s a newbie to this record-business thing. It doesn’t help that none of the songs jump out and grab the ear with any sort of urgency — again, it’s nicely produced, glass-smooth in capturing the guitar, a plus that should have been further capitalized upon by tossing in some electronics, but the duo instead appear to be holding out hope that no one’s ever heard a Pete Seeger tune before. “Red Wine and Chocolate” owes its life to “Wonderful Tonight;” however, the curveball’s a good one in the torchy dustbowl-hobo faux-antique “Playground.” C Eric W. Saeger