www.kristinberardi.com and www.jamessherlock.com
Reviewed by Chris Cody, September 1st, 2014
The challenge for singer/guitar duos is to maintain sufficient rhythmic and textural interest in what is a pared back and vulnerable setting. Without bass and drums, it is hard for any guitarist to provide the whole package of accompanying with chords, providing a walking bass where needed, making melodic comments between vocal phrases and taking a solo when the voice drops out.
However James Sherlock and Kristin Berardi sound like they’ve been doing it for a while, and complement each other very well. You can hear the trust between them, particularly in their improvisations and at the ends of pieces when they leave each other space, listen closely and share as equal partners in the music, even at the surprise ending of the song Charade.
Despite the inclusion of a couple of up-tempo pieces like Tangerine and Charade, the overall mood of the album is slow, sad and longing best typified by Embraced I, the only original by Berardi, containing a large dose of saudade. It features lovely slow smooth phrases and sensitive guitar work and is perhaps their best work on the album.
If I Only Had a Brain cleverly uses a suspended chord at the end of the form instead of resolving to the more expected tonic, leaving a feeling of doubt and and just a dash of humour that works well in the song.
Exploring the different possibilities of the duo, the voice is used as texture only with no words over the repeated ostinato chords and an independent bass line in the piece The Bass.
In Budgie by Vince Jones, Berardi recalls Rickie Lee Jones’ groove and swing and has attitude dripping from each delayed syllable.
With an overall length of 37 minutes, the CD leaves one wanting to hear more of the duo. It is well recorded by ABC Melbourne with rich lows and mediums, and clear trebles. It is available for purchase at the websites of both musicians.