It might have been simple necessity or unexpected providence that brought together Janet Simpson and Will Stewart, two musicians whose individual backgrounds cover a wide geography and history. Prior to their eventual collaboration as a duo, Stewart found himself developing the sound of his Nashville-based country-soul band Willie and the Giant. Simpson’s name was suggested as a contributor based on her extensive work with bands such as Wooden Wand, Delicate Cutters and Teen Getaway, and Simpson just so happened to be free that day to come by the studio to add some keys and vocals to some of Stewart’s songs before catching a plane for a European tour with Wooden Wand.
The duo is releasing their debut, The Family (Cornelius Chapel Records) this November. The opening salvo from the release is the gorgeous “Sunstroke.” It’s hard not to hear Minnesota’s Low in the number; not just because of similar styles. But also, those male/female harmonies blend together much like Low’s Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker.
The guitar and bass chords are interwoven with enough warmth to knit a sweater. The harmony is simple and structured, adding a moody and aloof tone. Both Simpson and Stewart are quite accomplished musicians in their own right. But lucky for us all, when they join together, they’re simply divine.