Up-and-coming husband/wife country duo Joey + Rory have taken a bit of a risk with their third studio release His and Hers, released last month on Sugar Hill/Vanguard Records. The jury is still out on whether the risk is going to pay off.
Let’s provide a bit of context to let you know the dynamic of what’s going on with this record. Joey + Rory is one of those duos (both in music and in life) that formed as a collaboration of two previously established solo acts. Rory Lee Feek found most of his earlier success as a songwriter in Nashville, and Joey Martin Feek got some moderate attention as a soloist. But their primary success has come in performing together, their record deal coming as a result of their appearance on CMT’s Can You Duet. Their resulting first two records essentially featured Joey on lead vocals, with Rory following up with harmonies. It’s a combination that garnered them a fair amount of attention, including an ACM Award for Top New Vocal Duo of the Year in 2010.
So here’s the deal: with His and Hers, the couple is acting more like two solo artists again, rather than the duo act that first got them the spotlight. The track lists splits things down the middle, with Rory and Joey taking turns on the lead—and the result is that it plays more like a compilation album between two artists. And honestly, I don’t know what to make of it. Are they pulling apart? Are they competing with each other? Do Rory and Joey still both pine for successful solo careers? Or are they just trying something new?
And most importantly—will this help them or hurt them?
Musically speaking, the album is pretty cohesive in other areas. Even with the split vocal responsibilities, the overall sound of the record is consistent, thanks to the production skills of Gary Paczosa. And—music to my ears—His and Hers is mainly old-school country style-wise, and with the exception of a few lyrical and musical clichés, it’s a great listening experience overall. Must-listens include the western-swinging “Let’s Pretend We Never Met,” the nostalgic “A Bible and a Belt,” and the emotional “When I’m Gone.” And in case you wondered—in my opinion, both Joey and Rory do well at the lead vocal position.
But even though the record itself is presentable, I just can’t help but wonder if this is a tactical error by a country act at a critical point in their career. I don’t know how His and Hers will be received by a fan base that has come to see Joey + Rory as a duo. Is this a career-advancing move, or a career-killing one?
I sincerely hope it’s the first. They certainly deserve it. But time will tell.
ALBUM RATING: 3.5 Stars (out of five)