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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 22.0° F  A Few Clouds
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Amy Curl & Dan Kennedy: Sharing a Head
(Slothrop Music)

Singer-songwriters Amy Curl and Dan Kennedy are both quite versatile musicians: Kennedy plays backup for Mark Croft, Sean Michael Dargan and other local artists, and Curl released a MAMA-nominated pop album, Mixed Bag, back in 2004. On their new EP, Sharing a Head, they prove that two heads - or two brains inside one cranium - are indeed better than one.

The five-track disc kicks off with "Erosion," the duo's biggest departure from their comfort zone of zany, folksy acoustic pop. The track is a dark and fast-moving ode to breaking up and moving on, tinged with anger and regret that seep through lyrics such as "Welcome, erosion / Until it's done exposing the foundation" and "We're crying again / I think we'll go under unless we can stop this from feeling new."

The duo then turn to more familiar material for "Siamese Babies" and "Dorian Gray," which sound a bit like the lovechild of Rachael Yamagata and Barenaked Ladies - or Aimee Mann and They Might Be Giants - with a bit of Tori Amos thrown in for "Dorian."

Curl and Kennedy's brand of quirk is refreshingly light on irony, a topic Kennedy addresses on the pair's website: "Irony has ruined everything. If you hear us playing some unexpected cover song it's because we love it, not because it's funny for us to do it." Thanks to this approach, it's possible to enjoy signature Curl lines like "Every little thing you do, you do to me," a complaint from one half of an imaginary conjoined-twin pair, for their wit rather than their snark.

Meanwhile, "In the Grass" highlights Curl and Kennedy's strengths as a pair. The track swells to a richly layered guitar-and-piano bridge, then calms to an airy fadeout laced with Curl's vocals, which hook you with their cool pensiveness, no silliness required.

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