There’s no question that The Lowest Pair are talented songwriters. Since their 2013 formation, Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee have written five albums worth of original material and toured extensively behind their efforts. Those efforts have won them considerable notice from both the mainstream and indie music press. Some will say that they work within a genre with relatively narrow possibilities and that their lyrical content is the only place where they can break any new ground, but Winter and Lee prove often on this release that there is any number of minor variations focused performers and arrangers can bring to longstanding traditional forms like folk and bluegrass. Their latest album, Uncertain as It Is Uneven, is part of a dual release this year from the duo. The release isn’t a proper double album, in the traditional sense of the term, or connected thematically – the two full length efforts have different musical agendas and leave different impressions on listeners.
The mood on Uncertain as It is Uneven is decidedly low-fi. Most of the songs are confined to a mid-tempo stroll and some listeners might find this problematic on such a relatively length album, but it begins in spellbinding fashion with the nuanced guitar/banjo swirl of “The Company I Keep”. Winter’s vocal lingers over each word and her unique tone and enunciating process gives a layer of emotion to the song it otherwise lacks. “Keeweenaw Flower” is a straight-ahead folk song musically and Lee’s guitar ably backs his vocal work, but the real winner in this song is a melody that listeners will find difficult to shake upon hearing it once or twice. “37 Tears” is full of numerological imagery that Lee’s baritone coveys without any gimmickry and the same strengths are in force on its follow up, “The Sky Is Green”. Winter’s vocal has a warm, very youthful quality that nullifies any sadness peeking between the lines. The duo’s harmony vocals are a surprisingly key strength of their presentation considering the contrasts in their voices and the first half of the album benefits enormously from their skill in that area.
“Dreaming of Babylon” has an unusual arrangement that Winter’s beautiful reading grounds with its melodic grace. The album’s final songs, “Pretend It’s True” and “By Then Where Will That Be”, have markedly different subject matters and approaches to said subject matter, but they are musical cousins that help bring the album to a moody, anxious ending. The first song focuses much more tightly on interpersonal relationships and mixes unique with familiarly imagery to make an impact. The musical backing is simple while being employed with a tremendous amount of artistry. The last song is a much more expansive effort that reveals ambitions the preceding ten songs only hint at. The Lowest Pair are clearly a duo who doesn’t mind taking the occasional whiff at wide scope lyrical profundity and they connect here with a sweeping personal look at their own lives and the hearts of those around them. It’s a truly splendid ending to an overall fine release.
8 out of 10 stars.