News And Notes
Nov 21

New Artist Spotlight: Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay

Noel McKay and Brennen Leigh

Noel McKay and Brennen Leigh photo by Melinda K. Thoms, courtesy of the CMA.

By Bob Doerschuk

© 2013 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

Before the World Was Made is a delicious mix: raw, retro Country plus sweet irony. That’s apparently the specialty of Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay, the Austin-based duo whose debut, on their B&N imprint, is hilarious, sentimental and profound, usually all at the same time.

Produced by Gurf Murlix, with only one of its 12 tracks penned by an outside writer, this album draws from Guy Clark, Lucinda Williams, the Louvin Brothers and, perhaps unconsciously, Nichols and May. Backed by a bare-bones band that consists of a drummer playing mainly snare, an acoustic bassist and occasional guests, they ponder love’s absurdities. A theme emerges in their titles alone. “Breaking Up Is Easy” is followed by “Breaking Up and Making Up Again,” in which McKay intones, “I forgot that you’re a bore,” and Leigh responds, “And I forgot how loud you snore,” both singing with a delightfully flat, deadpan delivery.

And who could resist the wisdom of “Let’s Go to Lubbock on Vacation,” which reasons that if they survive a week or so there, they’ll know they’re in love? Or “The Only Other Person in the Room,” a forlorn pickup song involving the last two folks in the honky-tonk at closing time?

But then they close with “Great Big Oldsmobile,” an unexpectedly touching pledge of lifelong adoration. “I’ll be deafer than a post and grayer than a ghost, but you’ll still steam my glasses up when you’re 92,” McKay promises — and we believe him.

For more on Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay, visit www.CMACloseUp.com.

IN HER OWN WORDS

MUSICAL HERO

BRENNEN: “Jim Lauderdale.

NOEL: “Guy Clark.”

ALBUM IN YOUR PLAYLIST

BOTH: “Guy Clark’s My Favorite Picture of You.”

DREAM DUET PARTNER

BRENNEN: “Melba Montgomery.

NOEL: “I sing with my dream duet partner nearly every night.”

PET PEEVE

BRENNEN: “Everything.”

NOEL: “Tailgating.”

FAVORITE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION

BOTH: “Train!”

ACTOR WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A BIOPIC

BRENNEN: “Jackie Chan.”

NOEL: “Brigitte Bardot, of course.”

MOMENT YOU’D LOVE TO RELIVE

BRENNEN: “Getting to play mandolin and sing with Charlie Louvin.”

FAVORITE FOOD ON THE ROAD

NOEL: “Peanut butter and strawberry sandwiches that Brennen makes while I’m driving.”

On the Web: www.BrennenLeighAndNoelMcKay.com

On Twitter: @BrennenLeigh; @McKayNoel

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