Gwyneth & Monko
An album full of dark and beautiful songs that radiate with the fever of Appalachian folk tunes yet have the easy going attitude of West Coast rock. Gwyneth Moreland grew up in sleepy Mendocino, weened by her Hippie parents on Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. Michael Monko played Hardrock in San Francisco High School bands while simultaneously developing an addiction to Bluegrass music. Together, the two present a real no-nonsense approach to playing Folk inspired music that strikes the right balance between rural roots and urban attitude. The Northern Californian duo's self-titled debut album bursts with tales of family drama, jealousy, loss, lust and illness. Gwyneth's language is graphic, almost biblical, situated somewhere between the ballads of the Appalachian mountains and Nick Cave's outback fantasies. With all that electricity in the air it's Monko's sparse yet elegant playing that provides an earth rod, funneling the energy into deceivingly easygoing sounding songs. Both Gwyneth and Monko must have listened intensively to scratchy old records from the 1920's and 1930's in their quest to find a way to write songs that jump at you and grab you by the throat. 'Gwyneth & Monko' is an exercise in capturing the essence of that archetypal song, the one that transcends time and culture continuing to pull listeners into it's thrall. The duo even experiments with the 19th century technique of recording music on a wax cylinder. The wax cylinder recording of 'Pine Box Sailor' is haunting in a way that is hard to achieve with more modern recording media: The fleeting, barely audible sound seems to spin off ghost harmonies and the fragile nature of the medium makes the performance even more poignant. - Tuneraker.com | Album Review February 11, 2011.