Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt: For Keeps.

Is there a better way to celebrate a recent marriage than recording an album together with your soul mate? Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt don’t think so, and the appropriately titled album For Keeps, (Red House) displays their combined passion, both for their music and each other.

While the duo has collaborated in the past, For Keeps, is the first release to truly feel like a combined effort. The track listing trades off song for song between the two, with neither dominating the recording. Things get interesting at the half way point where Ms. Elkin takes over vocal duties on a well known Schmidt track, “Company of Friends,” from 2011’s Little Gray Sheep. The favor is exchanged on the follow-up where roles are reversed and Schmidt sings Elkin’s “Swing from a Note.”

Fans of Die Elkinschmidt will immediately notice the departure from established sound on For Keeps. The production value will be foremost noted. The collaboration is heads and shoulders in terms of mixing above past entries featuring a complete band atmosphere for most of the tracks, to include backing vocals, auxiliary rhythms and full set percussion. Gone ye, are the cryptic lyrical references sung softly over minor keyed fingerings of Schmidt’s past works, and most obscene… the work seems generally positive and upbeat!

It’s hard to believe, but from the first chords of album opener “Two White Clouds,” with its mid-tempo instrumentation reminiscent of the glory of the first full day of Spring one discerns a contentedness with this work, a spiritual fulfillment even, dare I say, happiness? Maybe there is justice in this world, perhaps a body can find another half to complete themselves. A look around the pop-universe doesn’t support this fact, but its a rare thing to find two musicians who’ve come together over matters of the heart as opposed to those of exposure.

For Keeps works well in the vein of other great couple’s recordings, say Cash/Carter or Shovels and Rope, and much like a marriage of the flesh it is hoped this artistic endeavor will spawn many, many babies.

Rating: 6.5
MP3: Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt “Two White Clouds”
Buy: iTunes

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