The term "Kentucky Waterfall" doesn't just refer to the most scenic portions of the Cumberland River in the Bluegrass State's Daniel Boone National Forest. It's also code for "mullet hairdo," lending the sharp crackle of irony to Evan Murdock and Katie Powderly's latest musical project bearing the name. But that's not all: The duo is taking this twisted sense of humor a step further by organizing a "fake wedding" show to promote its debut album, The Real Me.
The purpose of the show -- other than playing new tunes -- is to bring together the pair's disparate musical influences and shared love of Americana sounds. Or, as press materials from The Kentucky Waterfalls summarize: "The duo will promise the musical portions of their souls to each other in a partnership more like Loretta and Conway than Johnny and June."
So don't go expecting any little Waterfalls anytime soon; Murdock and Powderly are only getting country-music married. The rest, well, is pretty platonic. It's a pairing that works, however, for writing and performing songs that meld outlaw and classic country with sweet old mountain tunes.
"Katie and I have very different kinds of writing styles: I write more straight-ahead country songs, and she writes a lot from personal experience, so this one grew out of her personal life," says Murdock.
In other words, "Mama's songs tend to be sweet and sad; Daddy's tunes are often sassy, but one thing's for sure: They love each other like peanut butter loves jelly. They just don't 'loooooove' each other," just as their press materials promise.
A sweet-and-sad bite of this sandwich is "Tables Turning," the second song on The Real Me. The melody is built upon a simple run of five or so notes, plus a few flourishes from Powderly's voice and two ringing threads of American Primitive-style fingerpicking. While this riff starts off sounding downright sprightly, it twists into something far more plaintive -- and especially memorable -- by its end.
And though this melody is easy to learn, like a campfire folk song or a ditty from grade school music class, the life lessons the song alludes to are not. As Powderly's lyrics explain in the chorus, "I get so tired waiting for these tables to turn / You are a lesson I just can't seem to learn."
Powderly's impassioned delivery of these lyrics, combined with Murdock's harmonies and a keen ear for Smoky Mountains folk and bluegrass tunes, echo Gillian Welch and David Rawlings' collaboration on Time (The Revelator). It's the kind of thing that makes you want to curl up in a warm blanket with a trusted companion -- whether it's your other half, your cat or a really good book -- and quietly appreciate the things that have gone right in your life.
An MP3 of "Tables Turning" is available in the related downloads at right. More music by The Kentucky Waterfalls is available on its MySpace page. The duo is throwing its combined "fake wedding" and CD release show with guests Cold Hard Cash and Earl Foss & the Brown Derby at the High Noon Saloon on Saturday, September 5.
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