Published Feb 21, 2008Although they hail from Winnipeg, MB, the mood of this second album from the folk/blues duo comprised of Dave Quanbury and Brandy Zdan is solidly rooted in the Deep South. Credit for this can partially go to producer Colin Linden (Blackie & the Rodeo Kings), who invited the pair to record at his Nashville studio, but the steamy vibe only accentuates Highway Prayers 12 richly detailed tales from the other side of the tracks. Both Quanbury and Zdan contribute equally to the writing, giving the songs alternating perspectives, and when they duet on "Impatient Love and "Sand In Your Eyes, the results are classic country weepers. But overall, the album shows the ease with which the pair can toss off intensely dark narratives, as on "Iowalta Morningside, and "The Ballad Of Salvador And Isabelle. Like fellow Winnipegger Luke Doucet, Twilight Hotel take strong cues from Tom Waits, but the undeniable chemistry between Quanbury and Zdan, along with some high-powered musical backing from Linden on slide guitar, and the final appearance from late keyboardist Richard Bell, makes Highway Prayer endlessly compelling.
This album has the feel of a tour scrapbook, based on the descriptiveness of the songs.
Dave Quanbury: Yeah, the song "Highway Prayer came about while we were driving down to Austin, TX and passing all of these church billboards along the way. Whoever wasnt driving would jot down ideas until the song eventually came together. The song "Iowalta Morningside came about that way too. Those were two town names we saw driving through Alberta and Brandy thought that together they would make a great name for a woman.
What prompted recording in Nashville?
We wanted to work outside of our comfort zone, and just being in Nashville seemed all we needed to get inspired. We drove straight from Winnipeg and played a gig to nobody in a crummy little bar the night before we started recording. We stayed in the cheapest motel we could find too, so I think we got the full experience we were looking for.
You handle the fact that this is Richard Bells last recording in a classy way.
We werent sure how healthy Richard was, but after a couple of days he came into the studio and was just a tremendous guy despite his physical condition. I tried not to ask too many silly questions about people hed played with, but were totally honoured now that we can count ourselves among them. (Independent)