Blood harmony is a topic that’s been talked about every which way to Sunday for decades now. And for good reason: It’s a magical thing, that blending of familial voices, and it’s made all the more so when the blends come from twins. The synchronicity of syllables and the rhythm of phrases seem to be in lock step thanks to that added level of “twintuition,” as dubbed by Chandra and Leigh Watson.
On their latest release, Duo, the Watson Twins are as harmonically synced as two separate bodies can be. For the first time in their career, they wrote the songs together, which led to the inclusion of unison vocal parts rather than their standard harmonies. The result, of course, is awfully cool. The way Chandra and Leigh bob and weave their voices together, effortlessly anticipating where the other will go, is really something to behold.
The album starts with their homage to the touring life, “Hustle and Shake.” Having spent the past few years on the road with Jenny Lewis and others, the Watson Twins know a thing or two about what it takes to live a life in constant motion. It’s hard, they contend, even in the very best of circumstances: “Outside of the spotlight, there’s a line of truth — headliner to heartache, all the towns you’ve been through. Whether you’re a believer, a skeptic, or a fake, it never gets any easier, this hustle and shake.”
But Duo isn’t a road record, like so many have been and will continue to be. Rather, it’s a collection of unhurried moments captured in uncomplicated ways, with the Watsons’ voices both lifting and grounding the whole affair. In the casual strut of “Rolling Thunder,” the twins take a look at their newly claimed hometown of Nashville and the creative community that powers it which, as well, can make for some tough sledding, even when the odds seem to ever be in your favor: “Four steps in the right direction. Two back is the only lesson. A little luck along the way. Lights up and the sun goes down. Never lonely in this noisy crowd. Don’t know a friend. Don’t know a stranger.”
The first song Chandra and Leigh wrote for Duo was “Call to You,” which they envisioned as a “quadtet,” with brothers Jack and Page from the Cactus Blossoms providing the counter-voices to theirs. It’s a completely mesmerizing track with a highly stylized and cinematic sound, seemingly plucked right out of a Jim Jarmusch or Quentin Tarantino film. It’s impossible not to fall right into its arms and not want to be let go… ever.
At different moments throughout Duo, the Watson Twins dip their toes into various acoustic-based interpretations of folk, country, pop, and Americana. But the styles all flow right along thanks to the seamless nature of their vocals. They’d say that’s just their “twinergy” at work.