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Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy What The Brothers Sang (Domino)

The covers album is the comfort blanket of the record industry, a commercially complacent domain of showtunes and standards where artistic imagination is positively frowned upon.

That's not true, however, of Will Oldham who, in his Bonnie 'Prince' Billy guise, has subtly claimed the Everly Brothers songbook as his own.

This set of duets, with Faun Fables' Dawn McCarthy, is performed with total respect for the originals and their heart-stopping harmonies; but not in such a reverential manner that Oldham's personal style is smothered. McCarthy is one of the best vocal matches in Oldham's ever-increasing catalogue, and so the songs' trademark intertwining of voices is gorgeously balanced.

Fiddle arrangements give the bulk of material an old-time Americana mood, while the pace shifts up a rock'n'roll notch on Milk Train and Somebody Help Me, then into looser late-1960s psychedelic folk for Just What I Was Looking For. There's no Bye Bye Love or Cathy's Clown: only Devoted To You and So Sad could be considered hit singles and, true enough, they're played the straightest.

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