Album Review: Bill & Kate Isles – Matching Baggage

February 7, 2009

Artist: Bill & Kate Isles
Album: Matching Baggage
Released: Little House Records, 2009

I was able to meet Bill and Kate when they came by St. John’s last year for the Swayed Pines Folk Festival, and they are very nice people. Kind-hearted, easy to talk to, really decent folks. This album really reflects that about them. Mellow acoustic folk, with nice, open lyrics that tend every once in a while to poetry, this is an album one can easily relax to.

Most of the songs are written by Bill, and lyrically fairly plain. Which in of itself is not a bad thing! Bill does really well at being open with the listener. There is no pretension to grand concept artistry here, and that is refreshing. In this album Bill and Kate sing about the simple pleasures of life: traveling, meeting a new love, and enjoying their company. And as those are simple, so are the lyrics: “All I wanna do is love you, and in your arms is where I wanna be, All I wanna do is love you, ’cause darlin’ your love has set me free.” If you’re looking for cynicism and apathy, don’t listen to this. These lyrics may just reaffirm your belief that people can have true, deep, and meaningful relationships with one another. Singing-wise, Kate and Bill work really well together. The duets are nice, and the lyrics work with two voices.

Musically, again it’s not too exciting. Bill plays the acoustic guitar fairly well, and the musicians brought in with each track play well with him. Bill backs up his playing with piano, accordion, upright bass, and harmonica, among others. “September Sun” has a nice harmonica solo which bumps the song up from average to good. Bill knows what each song requires to capture the feeling he wants to get across.

All in all, a good acoustic folk album, very light-hearted in content. It is plain and open, and easily accessible. Each song stands alone, but they all tap into the theme of love, new or old, that sustains the album. Check it out for a solid outing from this Minnesota duo.


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