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  • Jonathan Widran

GOLD LIGHT + SNAKEMUSK, Shadows in the Shallows

No matter where artists’ sensibilities have strayed in their lives and careers, one thing we can count on is that when two multi-talented, harmonically inclined singer-songwriters join forces under the umbrella of Americana music, we’re bound to hear some fantastic storytelling. DBA Gold Light + Snakemusk since the spring of 2017 in Asheville, NC, Joe Chang (guitars, vocals, bass, keys, banjo, percussion harmonica) and Beau Campolong (vocals, guitar) bring wildly eclectic resumes into their alternately gruff and dreamy, rambunctious and tender, playful and serious/heartfelt blend that blurs all lines between The Everly Brothers, Johnny & June, Bruce Springsteen and Buddy Holly.

As a solo artist, Joe as Gold Light formed a band in 2013 that played everything from 50’s doo-wop and rock to 80’s post punk. Beau (Snakemusk) cut their teeth in the SoCal DIY punk/noise/experimental scene while harboring a passion for banjo and old-time music. The sparkling delight of their dual debut album is its shift in tone and vibe and mix of lead and harmony vocals from one track to the next.

The first single, the hauntingly ambient, harmonica laced post breakup lament “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” is a grand laid-back showcase for Beau’s beautifully emotive lead vocals. The shift on the next track to the raucous rockabilly jam “The Last Picture Show” – featuring Joe’s hiccupping Buddy Hollyesque buoyancy – is jarring for sure, but in the coolest way possible. It’s like two different artists coming at picture perfect storytelling from very different angles.

The deeper beauty of their partnership shines through on the songs where their gorgeous vocal harmonies are front and center, including the raw and rustic front porch flavored “Nobody’s Baby” and the folky, ultra-romantic “Being Sweet,” where Joe sings solo lines before Beau joins in seamless, transcendent unison, a la John Prine and Iris Dement. There’s humor and deep tradition to be found as well, most notably on the quirky family saga “Papa Knows Best” and the closing tune “Death,” a stark dual harmony piece addressing the Grim Reaper which is new but sounds like it’s been slung around campfires in Appalachia for generations.

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