Published Apr 14, 2015The first time I saw Kevin Breit play, I felt like my brain was melting. Known for his incredible electric guitar wizardry with Sisters Euclid, he is one of the more creative and captivating performers around. Breit also has a penchant for the mandolin, and Ernesto and Delilah is his second mandolin album. It's really two albums of original music: Ernesto, an entirely instrumental recording of Brazilian-style mandolin orchestra pieces, and Delilah, a duet album with vocalist Rebecca Jenkins.
Ernesto starts off on a good note, with the playful "Como Uma Corrida De Cavalo," and has some nice moments, like the slow, lilting "Mulher Quieta." But the remaining songs seem to all be variations on a theme, and some parts of that theme are more musical than others. With its exploratory edge, busy arrangements and discordant notes, the album sounds a bit like an intellectual exercise, and by "Estoria De Zona Norte," listening to it begins to feel too much like work.
But then, along comes Delilah to rescue the whole project. In this collection of whimsical and lyrically quirky duets, sung by Breit and Rebecca Jenkins (Jane Siberry, Parachute Club), the mandolin orchestration finds its niche in the service of great songs and singing. Jenkins' intoxicating vocals — and Breit is no slouch either, especially on "Ghost of California" — smooth over the busy mandolin to great effect. Jenkins works her considerable charm on "Dance With Delilah," while the magic combination of their voices is on full display on "Foolish Kind," and again on "Rang A Lang," which also features one of the more interesting and creative mandolin solos on the album. (Independent)