Team GDW have recently found numerous new artists/albums (that are completely unknown to us) in an assortment of places: used CD stores, flea markets, thrift stores, and so on. Given that such purchases are both inexpensive and made entirely on a whim, the concept of “Take A Chance On Me” was born. This new recurring feature will reflect a “Proactive, not Reactive” approach to new music – we are taking a chance of something unknown possibly being of interest to us, as opposed to picking up an album because we liked a specific track by an artist on the radio.
Returning home from London, ON, recently, we decided to select one of these random purchases and listen to the album during the 400-mile drive home. And after just 30 seconds into the opening track, our first featured artist was an easy and obvious choice. The “Fire In The Flame” CD by folk duo The Marrieds (Jane Carmichael and Kevin Kennedy) was found, ironically, tucked away in the ‘miscellaneous’ section in a popular used CD store in their hometown of London, ON, and immediately grabbed our attention. Further research would reveal that this was their third full studio release, and we were certainly amazed at the outstanding production quality of this album. In fact, the only thing more amazing, is that this duo were completely unknown to us. We are active on social media, Spotify, and Bandcamp; we listen to CBC radio and other Canadian stations. So how is it possible that The Marrieds and our listening pleasures had never crossed paths until making a random album purchase on a Saturday afternoon in London?
Falling neatly into the category of traditional folk, it becomes apparent after several plays that “Fire in the Flame” stretches well beyond this particular genre. Indeed, in my humble opinion, I would argue that not only is this an album with many musical influences, it is also an album that has two distinct halves. The first four tracks allow Jane Carmichael the opportunity to provide the lead vocals (Kevin adds intermittent harmonies), while the remainder provides Kevin an equal responsibility in sharing the vocal duties.
With the three opening tracks (“Apres Vous,” “Fingers Crossed,” and “June”), The Marrieds do not seem willing to venture too far from the traditional folk sound. However, with “Burning Heart,” the listener detects a slightly more up-tempo, foot tapping beat, and the track gravitates towards a modern, contemporary country vibe. Moving into the fifth track (“A Girl Said Yes”), the chemistry of this duo becomes apparent, and this catchy number quickly shifts the focus from folk to a radio-friendly, almost ‘pop’ number. Both vocalists bounce off each other perfectly throughout this song, and don’t let off the gas pedal for the remainder of the album.
For me, there are a couple of standout tracks on this album. With an almost blues-inspired groove, “Rita” is an obvious choice, complete with catchy lines and some pretty impressive harmonica from Jane. The second has to be “Bungalow,” where Jane takes advantage of the slower, melodic timing to really demonstrate the strength of her vocal delivery. “Rita” and “Bungalow” are like night and day; the polar opposites of each other, but the placement on the album is perfect as one follows the other.
I must applaud The Marrieds for their choices of instrumentation across this entire album. They really do have an uncanny knack to have the perfect choice of instrument be injected into particular songs at exactly the right time. One example is “Fingers Crossed,” where a simple ukulele presence is wrapped up with dominant strings and piano as the track progresses. The reference earlier to the country sounding “Burning Heart” is another example, where a combination of banjo and strings delight the senses at the most appropriate moments, before the discreet addition of pedal steel down the stretch. Closing the album is the title track, which provides the perfect end to this musical journey, and guarantees that you’ll be returning to this one again very soon. As the inaugural “Take A Chance On Me” candidate, “Fire in the Flame” certainly resonates with our listening pleasures, and we are eager to discover other material from The Marrieds in the near future.