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100 Mile House: Love and Leave You
(Fallen Tree Records, as broadcast on WVIA-FM 4/20/2022)
One of the more durable musical configurations on the music scene is the folk duo, going back to Simon & Garfunkel, Ian and Sylvia, Brewer and Shipley, Richard & Mimi Farina, Richard and Linda Thompson, and even the Smothers Brothers. There have been quite a few notable musical twosomes that have appeared in recent decades, such as the Indigo Girls, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and the Milk Carton Kids, to name a few. This week’s album review is from another folk duo, in this case a pair of spouses, who call themselves 100 Mile House. Their new release is called Love and Leave You (Deluxe).
100 Mile House are Canadian singer-songwriter Denise MacKay and British-born folkie Peter Stone. They met by chance nearly 20 years ago, and became musical and then marital partners. Love and Leave You is their fifth studio recording. The “deluxe” comes from the fact they had previously released this album in abbreviated form. This version has a cover of the song made famous by Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson, plus a trio of live recordings of songs that also appear on the studio portion of the album.
On the new release, 100 Mile House go for a stripped down acoustic sound, but interestingly, several of the tracks have a string section. Their music is melodic, warm and inviting even though the lyrics can be bittersweet at times. Ms. MacKay says that many of the songs are autobiographical, but also written in a way that could be applicable to most folks at one time or another. There were songs about Stone moving from his native England to Canada and the separation, and more recently the challenges of raising a family, the loss of loved ones and quote “how the visions you had for your life inevitably change.” While Stone does most of the lead vocals, the duo’s vocal harmonies are very nicely done and classic folkie in style.
Opening is a piece called River a consideration of impermanence. The arrangement is all vocals and the string ensemble. <<>>
The title track Love and Leave You is about a family reunion which inevitably must come to an close. The acoustic arrangement conveys just the right mood. <<>>
With a more produced sound including percussion and the like is Test the Timber a bit of introspection on the state of one’s life. <<>>
One of the more poignant songs is Grateful, a reflection on the members of family, and the memories of them. <<>>
Ms. MacKay does the lead vocal on Light Goes Out another song with a melancholy but not really sad sound. It’s ostensibly about the onset of winter, but could be interpreted as being about the old expression “all good things much come to an end.” <<>>
Another song about the passing of time is Like Each Day about an old man near the end of his life whose wife’s advancing senility was becoming clear. <<>>
A track that seems autobiographical is Lucky to Be Loved about woman running away from home to play music, and then finding a soulmate. <<>>
On this Deluxe edition, 100 Mile House does the song Always on My Mind recorded by Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and even the Pet Shop Boys. It’s given a really pretty treatment with the string section. <<>>
The Canadian-based duo 100 Mile House, on their new album Love and Leave You makes a very impressive addition to the folk duo genre, a delightful recording of thoughtful, sometimes melancholy songs with just the right combination of excellent vocal harmonies, understated acoustic instrumentation and tasteful arrangements with the small string ensemble. The songs are very relatable, and one couldn’t ask for a nicer musical setting.
We’ll give the album an “A” for sound quality, with the recording capturing the warmth of the music, with the sound uncluttered and the acoustic instruments captured the care.
For many fans of folk and singer-songwriters, there’s always room for another co-ed duo. 100 Mile House’s Love and Leave You is a gem.
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