The husband and wife duo of Nate and Tessa bring us a lo-fi songbook of singalong punk folk in the vain of BMX Bandits or They Might Be Giants that can be both wildly catchy and extremely annoying in equal measure. What we get here is two albums on one cd. The first half being the duo and the second being Nate solo. Of the two offerings it is the solo stuff that is the more pleasing, mainly due to the fact that we are spared the voice of his other half that has no hint of either melody or tuning. Coming from a city that's slogan is 'Keep Portland Weird', these guys are living up to that mantra.
With the first half we find ourselves exploring love, life and protest songs. In Turns Out You're Perfect For Me and Loving You we find Nate and Tesse telling us how they feel about each other and the idiosyncrasies that each of them find endearing. Endearing to them perhaps. They obviously spend a fair bit of time on the lyrics, but they tend to be to personal to allow the listener in. We'll leave the first half here as there is not much to recommend.
Second half is Nate and a banjo. Now, if I was to listen to an instrument on its own for 10 songs, the banjo would not be high on the list, but surprisingly it doesn't grate anything like expected. Humour is to the fore when we kick of with Phil Collins, which contains what are perhaps the greatest lyrics ever written when Nate sings 'I'm not Phil Collins, but I may be Henry Rollins bangin' out a tune on this ol' banjo'. Now that is poetry. The bluegrass tinged Guitar Strings is a throwaway love song that has little to do with guitar strings, but is sweet never the less. The best is saved for last with Pardon Song, a nonsensical piece about belonging and self discovery that shows what this record could have been.
You get the feeling listening to this album that these guys love what they do, but it borders too much on the amateurish to be taken seriously. Having said that I'm sure this works as a live show and would love to see them live.