The Lowest Pair (Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee) has always been one of those duos whose music sounds like it somehow comes from one body. So clear are they in each other’s songwriting, it’s hard to imagine how they’d even make music on their own. The word “synergy” comes to mind. So does “magic.”
Here they are again, back with their seventh recording, Horse Camp (out now, self-released).
It is full of songs the pair wrote during pandemic lockdown and on which they collaborated with Adam Roszkiewicz and Leif Karlstrom (of Front Country and Small Town Therapy). The collaboration came about when the four were camping together and swapping songs around the fire.
That late-night, improv-spirited revelry pervades Horse Camp. You can almost see the stars.
As usual, Winter and Lee swap lead vocals. Her songs dance through the dreaminess of her whimsical vocals. His are more rooted. Together, their voices are earth and air, a bird in flight. All of this punctuated by masterful banjo and fiddle and, with Roszkiewicz and Karlstrom, guitar and mandolin.
“Couple of Jerks” is an emotional broken-love song about being “guardians of each other’s solitude.” The fiddle and mandolin dance dangerously close here, as do the vocal harmonies. “Dandelion Tides” is a raucous trad-style romp that begins with a capella vocals then unleashes thick, nuanced, tightly held instrumental arrangements.
As stirring and delightful as are the songs with lyrics, it’s the instrumental tracks on this album where the listener is truly transported. Each collaborator came with one, which means there are four different styles and spirits to their arrangements. Think of them like the four elements.
The album opens with the languid “This House,” peaks with the fiery “Dark Divide,” turns on the cool ground of “Escape from Yellowstone,” and lands with the windy “Tongue Mountain.” The latter trails off like campfire smoke on a clear night and you’re left with the grateful feeling you just witnessed something wonderful.
Horse Camp is available HERE.