"I am always on the lookout for people who are doing something different and innovative on the harp and I think
[Don and Deb have] discovered a whole new breadth of expression for the instrument. Deb Gessner’s harp interweaves gracefully with Don Charles’ guitar and vocals, to create a new sound on the face of the singer/songwriter scene. The result is a stark and hypnotic landscape of sound deftly drawing the picture of the great Southwest, their home. In their music, this duo from Arizona has chosen to tackle tough issues and the meaning of it all. The result is well worth checking out.
Their first release, Matter of Life and Death, has an earthy feel as if freshly dug from the parched soil. The CD opens with a highly-percussive, almost a cappella, song entitled “Rain”, which paints a picture of a rainstorm through the sounds of the congas, the harp, and the vocals themselves. From this start, we proceed through a series of songs about such diverse subjects as the lottery, use of public lands (the great outdoors), baking bread, and relationships. There’s a nice song about how we are tied to the earth, “The Wind in the Willow”, which features a delightful tradeoff of lines between the guitar and the harp. Besides all these original songs, there is also a traditional Appalachian track, “Tater Patch/Little Red Rocking Chair”, which gives the impression of a gentle lullaby by the way the tunes are slowed down and backed by the harp in this arrangement.
My favorite things on this recording are the instrumentals. Almost tone poems, they delicately paint a picture of the subject matter through music. “When the Monsoons Finally Came” gives the textures and sounds of rain arriving in the parched southwest. In “Whirlybird” we get the image of maple seeds spinning down from the trees, over and over again. My very favorite is entitled “Aaron Dreams of Bees”, a musical story of a small boy busy gathering pollen with the bees. This waltz has just the right timbre, with the harp taking the lead with a slightly Slavic sound, backed by concertina, mandola, and clarinet. It’s a merry-go-round of the joy of investigation."
-Jo Morrison (Folk Harp Journal, Issue 105, 1999)