by Sean Jewell ::
Some bands got it all. The best ones make carrying that load look effortless. Portland’s The Earnest Lovers seem to be that kind of outfit. The classic country duo, billed as “vintage honky tonk heartbreak serenaders,” will be releasing their debut EP Sing Sad Songs on June 11th, and if you like country, well, this one’s for you.
Set on the wings of Leslie Beia‘s (Copper & Coal) easy to love, pitch perfect, vocals, The Earnest Lovers use all the same old tricks: slide guitar, chuggin’ acoustic, and forlorn violin, but it ain’t what they do, it’s the way that they do it. Pete Krebs harmonizes from the deep end on songs whose writing exhibits the best kind of country: cleverly written, sad songs, played brightly in a time you can dance to. “San Andreas’ Fault” uses a single apostrophe to turn California’s biggest crack into the heartbreak of a woman who’s fallen out of love, right or wrong, with a jealous man she’s learning to let go of by burning his letters that ask “where’d you go?” It’s a brilliant turn of phrase even the best Bakersfield country acts would crack a smile at and ask “why didn’t I think of that?”
The EP is full of pleasurable tunes about heartache like that. On “Angel of Sunrise” Beia sings among jangly strings, bass bump, and buzzing violins: “sittin’ in the back of an empty car, taking this shit just a little too hard, chasin’ my shadow back where you are, prayin’ for the angel of sunrise” and what’s clearly a song about “scars on my heart” is somehow empowering in its delivery. Pete nails it himself on “No Songs Came By Today” a honky-tonk about how sometimes the words just won’t come . . . especially when the things that comfort you are just out of reach.
As country duos go, the list is long and distinguished, but it’s been a while since I heard songs that reminded me this much of Gram and Emmmylou. Sing Sad Songs is built on country music inspired by loneliness; what makes it great is the delivery from two musicians who found togetherness.
The Earnest Lovers Sing Sad Songs drops June 11th, and they’ll be playing all over the Northwest this summer. Catch them in Seattle at the Tractor Tavern August 6th, and in the meantime pick up the EP here.