Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile make it seem effortless 

In an era of mega-celebrity guest stars and overproduced duet albums, it took these two aw-shucks performers and their Lotta Sea Lice collaboration to relive the casual grace of Al Kooper or Blind Faith. The reason that Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile can conjure the ghosts of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra is that Vile makes sure the atmosphere is kicked back enough to suggest front porches and whiskey sippin’, while Barnett packs as many syllables as possible into a verse, so no listener falls asleep. For the bulk of the album, the two lyricists swap songs, though Barnett contributes the beautiful “Fear is Like a Forest” written by her wife, Jen Cloher, and the album ends with a stroke of genius, a cover of Belly’s “Untogether.” There are only two minor faults in this outing: nine tracks leave the listener wanting more, and the opening song “Over Everything” is so impressive, some listeners may never make it to later gems. The best kind of masterpieces are the kind that seem effortless.
File next to: Richard & Linda Thompson, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan


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