The Provo Utah pop duo Adam and Darcie have a distinct musical chemistry that involves the use of layered harmonies to produce warm, gentle pop. Traveling from California to Massachusetts, the group managed to record some very likable songs without the use of any studio tricks.
Recording mostly with a laptop, the band takes advantage of an uncomplicated but effective formula on their album The Valley Where I'm From. They lay a solid framework with standard song structures and basic melodies. Lush vocal arrangements are key to the group's attractive songs. Although the album has a charming, sentimental feel, the songwriting is mature unlike most sappy love songs that contain tired, cheesy lines.
The word I can’t get out of my head when I listen to this CD is “natural.” I know, I know, it’s not very descriptive, but it is accurate in describing the mellow folk-pop of Adam and Darcie.
The biggest draw, and what sets Adam and Darcie apart from other groups with a similar sound, is the vocals. The couple’s voices complement each other so, well, naturally that they sound like a single, beautiful instrument. And, like other successful vocal-centric groups like Low or Ida, Adam and Darcie do not rely solely on pretty harmonies to carry their album. Instead, they lay a solid foundation with songcraft for which their celestial harmonies are the keystone. They are not limited by genre–their songs range from the intimate folk of The Innocence Mission to plush instrumental rock.
The orchestration on The Valley Where I’m From is modest and appropriate. Despite the fact that both Adam and Darcie Sanders are both able multi-instrumentalists–handling guitar, drums, banjo, accordion, ukulele, and piano between the two of them–most of the songs are embellished by nothing more vocal harmonies. On “2 Cities,” a lone banjo is the perfect showcase for Darcie’s shy, smoky vocals. On the converse, “Man in the Moon” successfully uses an electronic beat to create an immediately accessible pop song that also has depth, and “Still I Know I,” the standout track of the disc, employs a full band and swells, um, naturally into a wall of guitars that is as exciting as it is tasteful. Vocal overdubs are applied like good makeup; they enhance without drawing your attention to them.
Don’t let the cuteness of the album cover fool you; Adam and Darcie’s music evokes mature love more than childish infatuation. This is evidenced by their lack of interest in proving their love to the listener through trite, dewy-eyed tropes. The strength of the album lies in Adam and Darcie’s ability to communicate sentiment without sentimentality. Simply using their real names as the band name is not a cutesy minimalist ploy. Rather, it reflects the fact that their music lacks gimmick as much as it lacks ego. This is Adam and Darcie as they are, straightforward and, you know, natural.
- NATE HOUSLEY (CDREVIEWS.COM)