Misner and Smith – Headwaters

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

Actors and Folk Rock Musicians Sam Misner and Megan Smith make parallels between acting and musical performances. “Each actor’s job is to interpret someone else’s words and trying to get to the heart of what it is the playwright is trying to express”. A succinct description of the role of the performer. Throughout this album the central focus is the song and the duo’s trademark harmonies, rich and perfect on the Simon and Garfunkel classic “America” and the aching “Expecting to Fly” by Buffalo Springfield. The layering of instruments on Seven Hour Storm to create a complex Folk Rock haze is gone, pared to the core of guitar and vocals there is a real sense of a 60s Greenwich Village performance with the pair perched on bar stools. Pete Seeger is dropping in later and over by the door in the turtleneck smoking, it’s one of Peter Paul and Mary. The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Coconut Grove” is one of the moments where Misner and Smith’s performance carries the original forward. “Coconut Grove” has a hazy sparkle on the guitar and a presence on the guitar that makes it sound like a track from David Crosby. If you want to know how a slightly blissed out Spoonful cover might have sounded on If Only I Could Remember My Name, it’s here and it’s lovely. Similarly reimagined as a sensitive coffee shop ballad is Talking Heads New Wave Rock “City of Dreams”. It becomes a cousin to Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer”. Stripped back to its core of a sublimely quirky guitar part and beautiful vocal harmonies, reimagined as a Laurel Canyon mystical trip Dr Dog’s “Turning the Century” is a wonder, worth the price of the album alone. I grew up with the originals of “America”, “Expected to Fly” and “Return of the Grevious Angel” thumping through my bedroom floor as they seeped into my dreams. Hearing those is like greeting old friends or visiting the small town where you were born. The tracks that really grabbed me were The Lovin’ Spoonful and Dr Dog tracks, maybe because they were reimagined or because they weren’t part of my 70s soundtrack. Pleasurable visits to old friends or discoveries of classics sensitively and perfectly rendered this is just a delight, a delight of performance and song.