Joey and Rory The Life of a Song

This husband and wife act may not have come up through traditional channels but they sure deliver the goods in short order on this enchanting debut. The songs are solid, the chemistry front and centre and the musicianship slick without the curse of overproduction. Both have recorded as solo artists and Rory has proven an accomplished songwriter for others’ mantelpieces. Yet their lives remain somewhat simplified, translating to an audible authenticity that couldn’t be packaged. Much ballyhooed single "Cheater, Cheater” might be the disc’s least impressive song; it’s simply a tired theme in country circles. Joey’s rich vocals are out front, complemented by Rory’s harmonies and superb accompaniment in the form of fiddle, dobro and piano. The true bluegrass flourishes, likely due to the project’s accomplished helmsman, banjo master Carl Jackson, make for a killer combination. Their songs are the highlights: "Rodeo,” "Heart of the Wood” and the playfully sensual "Tonight Cowboy You’re Mine.” Yet the most surprising accomplishment comes with a cover that should be a joke but isn’t. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s "Freebird” is deconstructed, reworked and rebuilt to stunning effect. Who knew it was possible? And if this signature achievement doesn’t send a chill down your back prepare yourself for regular exposure to Joey Martin’s voice. It promises to take its toll. (Sugar Hill)