By: Dennis Cook
This goes from quite good to flat out great so fast it'll make your head spin. From the light West Coast twang of opener "Mason City" (a dead ringer for '70s Linda Ronstadt) onwards, Fortunately (released August 19 by Calla Lily Company) literally grows more interesting and appealing with each track, dipping into Athens, GA jangle, early '70s Byrds, a lil' SoCal hippie psych-country, a touch of Big Star and many flavors unique to the sibling synchronicity of Lily and Will Courtney. Will's compositions resonate with the same exposed poetry as Leonard Cohen but lifted from Len's somnambulant shuffle into colorful settings charged by gorgeous pedal steel and infinitely human harmonies. Their MySpace bio begins, "Watch Breaking Away, Being There, The Last Waltz, Five Easy Pieces and Harold and Maude and you will understand where we are coming from." These are definitely folks I want to spend time with!
When they turn inwards, slowing things to a thoughtful saunter, as on "Make A Man's Body Hurt" and "Lonely Man" (two of 2008's finest cuts), well, they give one a shiver. They take us down to times "when being poor was kind of fun" and tap into the ache of living with little, so that every small blessing or setback resonates powerfully. Repeat spins show prancing rockers like "Can't Hold Me Back" and "The Trees Are Bare" have almost as much power as the ballads, charmers that'll get you "drinking Hot Toddies in the middle of the day." The cover shot of the smiling, poncho wearing band resplendent on the grass, nestled between cliff walls with an exploding sky above them, all aurora borealis and big bang-y, offers a few hints of what's waiting inside their incredibly together grooves. Perhaps it's their sense of completeness and uniqueness despite elements we've encountered many times before that will sneak Fortunately onto a number of Best of 2008 lists and most certainly into the private stash of Cosmic American Music lovin' folks everywhere.
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