Published Aug 27, 2018Among all of the genre-mingling folk diversity that exists, sometimes there emerges a record that relishes in the simple beauties of the genre's foundation. Courtney Hartman (previously of Della Mae) and Taylor Ashton (of Fish & Bird) met in New York, and their songwriting styles clicked. Where Hartman is known for her guitar work and Ashton for his banjo, together they shine in new ways; their voices and writing complement one another, while their instrumental prowess often propels the project.
For the most part, Been On Your Side is a collection of love songs written by two people with a shared interest in the warmth and lifespans of relationships, but for all the sweetness that exists in songs like "Meadowlark" and "Loving Hands," Hartman and Ashton excel when they push into less familiar territory. On the heartbreakingly humorous "Dead to Me," the duet break into two wildly different perspectives: "I dream of you" but "I'm bored of you." When they enter a more painful space on "Better," you get the heart-wrenching conflict of a relationship post-ending: "I know you said you couldn't have me around, but I know you'd change your mind if you saw me now." The album concludes on a comforting and melancholic note with "Liza": "I know what it means to need a shoulder, so lay your head on mine."
You can tell Been On Your Side was recorded among sunshine and friendship, because what emerges is a sweet and skilled measure of folk, driven by love and the joy of finding harmony. Though perhaps low-risk in some of the more saccharine moments, this is certainly an album for anyone looking for a gentle, poetic escape. (Free Dirt)