CD REVIEW: Tortoise and Hair - The Sunny Side
By Don Sechelski - 06/04/2013 - 09:29 PM EDT
Artist: Tortoise and Hair
Album: The Sunny Side
Genre: Americana, Folk, Acoustic
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Girl In The Sparkling Dress, Idella, Ghost, Giraffe
Tortoise and Hair is a duo consisting of Adrienne and Dustin Cottrell. Their debut release, The Sunny Side, features an array of original tunes, close harmony, and some very tasty musicianship. All tunes were written by the Cottrells with the exception of two covers, a dark rendering of The Sunny Side and a soulful, jazzy cover of Bye Bye Blackbird.
Co-produced and recorded by Bert Elliot in Atlanta, Tortoise and Hair are surrounded by a coterie of talented musicians including Steve Cunningham on electric guitar, lap steel, and dobro, Bart Nason on cello, and Maria Feeney on violin and viola. Marlon Patton provides drums and percussion, Tom Young plays bass, Ganesh Giri Jaya adds percussion , and Don Discenza contributes accordion while Will Blackstone Ruff provides viola.
There are many delightful choices on The Sunny Side. One of my favorites is Girl In The Sparkling Dress. This waltz tune features Adrienne’s pure crystalline vocals and a David Rawlings-esque accompaniment on acoustic guitar and piano by Dustin. Dustin takes lead vocal on Idella, an ode to his childhood nanny. “She taught us all the colors of the world.” Smoke is another stand-out, an Adrienne vocal about false love.
Throughout The Sunny Side, the highlights always include the close harmonies of Dustin and Adrienne. In my opinion, they would be well served by combining their vocal talents more often. Feather is a perfect example. When Adrienne’s vocal joins Dustin’s, the song really takes off and reaches a higher plane. Songbird features some very nice guitar work from Dustin but when his vocal joins in, the song soars. Ghost is another favorite that benefits from strong vocal harmony. Perhaps the sweetest song on The Sunny Side is Giraffe, a beautiful love parable from husband to wife.
The Sunny Side is a strong debut effort. The songs are strong and well written, the musicianship is excellent, and the production is clean and effective. The Sunny Side is a superb and charming collection of songs that showcase this multi-talented duo. Catch Tortoise and Hair as they perform around Atlanta and the surrounding environs. Make a point of picking up their CD, The Sunny Side. You won’t regret it.
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