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Eric Brace and Peter Cooper
You Don't Have to Like Them Both

Review By Steven Stone
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  Although the title is semi-apologetic, neither Eric Brace nor Peter Cooper have anything to be ashamed of on You Don't Have to Like Them Both. Eric Brace runs Red Beet Records which released a solo album by Peter Cooper in 2008. Peter Cooper has been writing about music for Nashville's Tennessean newspaper for several years.  They met in Nashville at a song pull where singers and songwriters get together to eat, drink, and perform new songs for each other. Eric remembers, "I thought Peter was there as a journalist, but when the guitar was passed to him, he delivered one of the best songs of the night."

According to Peter the goal for You Don't Have to Like Them Both was to create, "a portrait of friendship and song…this is what we do…we get together and laugh and make music." Their original songs, Brace's "I Know a Bird" and Cooper's "The Man Who Loves to Hate," join Kris Kristofferson's "Just The Other Side of Nowhere," Todd Snider's "Yesterday and Used to Be's", Jim Lauderdale's "I Know Better Now," David Olney's "Down to The Well," Paul Kennerly's "The First In Line," and Karl Straub's "Drinking From a Swimming Pool" to form a remarkably cohesive mood.

Their music resides in the large space between folk and country. It's tight and catchy without being slick or calculatedly commercial. Perhaps the term back-porch country best describes the mood here. Even on the darker numbers, such as the traditional tune, "Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still," the overall disposition is comfortably upbeat. With the legendary Lloyd Green on pedal steel guitar, Richard Bennett, Tim Carroll and Kenny Vaughan on guitars and Tim O'Brien on banjo, bouzouki, mandolin, and octave mandolin, the picking on You Don't Have to Like Them Both is first-class. The production sounds warm and natural, but on some cuts, such as "Lucky Bones," a bit of guitar amplifier hums sneaks into the mix.  But despite this tiny technical faux pas, the overall sonic quality of You Don't Have to Like Them Both equals anything you'll hear from the mainstream labels.

If you like music that doesn't need to be glossy to deliver its message with impact, You Don't Have to Like Them Both should be part of your next musical meal.

 

 

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