The Gloria Darlings
Come Home To Me
3½ start (out of 5)
By Donald Teplyske
A very interesting album recently made its way to me, and once again I find myself enamoured with a group that was previously completely unknown to me.
Seattle’s Gloria Darlings are an old-time and long-gone country-influenced, vocal-based duo. Featuring nine original songs as well as a pair of classic country covers, the Gloria Darlings’ debut album delivers bright and lively acoustic music.
Call it bluegrassish-folk music, label it acoustiblue (please) or alt.country (does anyone use that anymore?), the Gloria Darlings have crafted an appealing collection of music that flies by in a flash.
Melissa Jane Pandiani handles most of the lead vocals and contributes all the guitar, while her partner Amelia Boksenbaum also sings while doing dual heavy lifting on fiddle and mandolin. Michael Connolly, who recorded and mixed the album, plays bass.
The album kicks off with as strong a song as I’ve heard this month: “Come Home To Me,” written by Pandiani, starts with the lines, “It’s so confusing, the way that you can spur me on; from a thousand miles away, you turn up in all my songs.” Gentle and yearning, Pandiani is at her best contemplating the complications of a relationship that has gone awry.
There are several songs here to capture listeners’ interest. “Insomniac’s Lullaby” possesses a pleasing sound, with seemingly dream-induced lyrics benefiting from nice fiddle and an especially satisfying little mando break. The protagonist of the likeable “Ghost Girl” isn’t nearly as sinister as the title might suggest—well, other than cutting down the first stranger she meets in Nashville: really, she’s just a girl from Heartache City looking for love.
The duo ably cover Ray Price’s “You Done Me Wrong” and the Louvins’—via Jim & Jesse—”Hide & Seek”, while making their own songs fresh and contextually consistent with their influences. The spirited “Jack of the Wood” as well as “Music Men” further reveal their appreciation of old-fashioned mountain music.
Boksenbaum (who goes by Milly Raccoon) is an impressive fiddler, and her work on that instrument and the mandolin provide connections to bluegrass, old-time, and traditional country that many will appreciate.
Come Home To Me may come unheralded, but with its release the Gloria Darlings are informing us that they are a duo to whom we should pay more than a passing listen.