Album Review

Holly & Ken Show That They Can Be One Dreamy Duo

Holly & Ken - The Record

When two like-minded musicians opt to join forces, the results often prove spectacular. Such was the case with The Record, a loosely configured concept album supposedly inspired by Willie Nelson’s country classic Red Headed Stranger. In truth, the two sound very little alike, but given the pedigree possessed by its musical collaborators, Ken Stringfellow and Holly Muñoz -- he, a purveyor of power pop propensity via the Posies and the latter day Big Star, and she, a knowing newcomer with an astute sense of melody -- it’s not surprising that The Record resonates so effectively. The duo, who refer to themselves simply as Holly & Ken, met by chance quite awhile ago, but didn’t actually find themselves in a recording studio together for another four years. When they did, they found sympathetic company in the persons of Vicki Peterson, Matthew Caws of Nada Surf, Keren Ann and Shelby Earl, all of whom add a particular flavor and finesse to this 14 song set. Holly & Ken themselves sound more like Gram and Emmylou than Johnny and June, especially given the softer, swaying textures that illuminate this album overall. The meditative title track, an affecting but unexpected take on Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Edelweiss,” and the Bakersfield honkytonk of “Ballad of the Record” reflect the duo’s desire to fashion disparate sounds, but it’s the wistful road song “Meet Me in Miami” and the effervescent sheen of “Another One for the Record” that stand out above all else.  One can only hope that despite their individual enterprises, Holly & Ken can continue to make records together in the future, because as The Record shows, they’re clearly capable of more than one spin.