Picks and Pans Review: Hai Ku
Mary Ann Kennedy and Pam Rose are best known for writing such country music hits as Lee Greenwood's "Ring on Her Finger, Time on Her Hands" and Restless Heart's "I'll Still Be Loving You." On this, their first album as performers, they tend a little more to the pop-rock end of the spectrum, but whatever you call it, it's a pleasure to listen to.
They have in any case maintained the joined-at-the-hip spirit they have established as composers. There are a few studio musicians sitting in on some cuts—David Grissom on guitars, for instance, and Carl Marsh on keyboards. They share the composing credits with songwriting sorority sisters Renee Armand, Pat Bunch, Kye Fleming and Candy Parton.
But this is basically a two-woman show, with Kennedy and Rose taking turns on lead vocals. They both have resonant, clear voices, with the edge to take on the rock energies of "Love Like This" and the control to handle the quieter "Nightline." Their songs' lyrics chase in, around and through the mysteries of romance, with enough back-to-reality touches to suggest they have been to the well once or twice and found it empty—or filled with spiders: "Who will catch you when you're falling/ Who will find you in the dark/ Who will hear you when you're calling/ Who will see you as you are?"
Kennedy and Rose are well into their 30s, so they are not exactly new kids on the rural route. But there are times when the voice of experience is welcome too, especially when it sounds this musical and this good. (Pangaea)
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