They are a male and female duo, but if I say that you’ll start thinking about the Civil Wars and the like, but they are a completely different sound. Think timeless sounds with a fresh, crispness that makes them exciting and relevant. The closest “sounds like” to me is two thirds of the Spring Standards. But Daniel Ahearn and Mindy Jones make some beautiful music. Give them a chance!
The title track “Sirens” has just the right kind of track layering that makes it work. More or less “alt rock” to it, the harmonies between Daniel and Mindy are not the tight folksy harmonies I typically feature. Rather, they are loose, whimsical, yet still expertly relatable. The song has a jangly, comfortable feeling to it that has connotations of adventure.
The second song “Doubt My Love” is a sappy love song made for a film score or some such cuteness. “Why do you doubt my love?” is the essential (and repeated lyric) but one that probably millions of lovers have uttered over the years. The following “Could’ve Had It All” reminds me of mid-90s alt rock. It’s an acoustic song with the 90s lyric “at least we have tonight.” Seriously the whole track has this vibe that takes me back to my own angsty early teen years. It’s not like I don’t like the song… it just makes me mad at girls I haven’t talked to for 15 years. That’s normal, right? (In fairness, the lyric “for tonight let’s make love” would have made mid-90s me blush… like for real.) Although I’ve appeared to treat the song as the joke, it has the absolute most “single” potential on the album. If I had a radio station, it’s the song I’d feature.
“If Only It Could Be” has a unique strum pattern and rhythm to it. Again highlighting the sort of acoustic alt rock sound, it takes advantage of the two voices very well. Singing back and forth, utilizing the creative (island?) rhythm, the song brings together disparate sounds for a cool overall feeling. “Baby it could be right now…” Ultimately it’s a song about having things work out, despite one another’s faults. “I loved you once the way you were…” reflects on a perfect moment that could have been, wishing it was “right now.” (Oh… and there are horns… which always improves the cool quotient on any song for me.)
“Love Lights the Way” has an old time feel to it. Mindy’s vocals are a bit sweeter on this track than others on the album and Daniel sings a wonderful highlighting harmony. It’s a simple lyrical track that diverges nicely from the rest of the album. “Make It Right” comes back to the more typical acoustic guitar sound (with a nice, clear recording quality too). The lyric “…but summer never lasts forever… winter’s never far away” is a wonderful songwriting turn that metaphorically explores the ups and downs of a relationship. Perhaps the best song (and best songwriting) on the entire album, “Make It Right” is a sweet salvo that will connect with everyone whose ever had a disagreement in a relationship (which is every human, ever). The melody, harmonies, and subject matter work together perfectly. Great work.
The harmonies on “Undone” are the best on the album. Check them out. It’s the closest thing to a pure “folk” song on the album. It’s a real contender with “Make It Right” for best on the album. (I wonder if they were written/recorded in the same stage of album development.) The lyric “I’m the one you’ve left undone” is really sad. It’s about a guy waiting for his girl to come back to him. It’s sweet… and the minor key change on the bridge is beautiful.
The final track “Crazy Along the Way” is a classic country, folksy song. It has a different sound than most of the album, but provides a nice exit track from the album. It even has a nice “sing-a-long” element to it. It’s about how life drives us crazy, especially in relationships. It’s another one of those easily relatable tracks that makes the DA and the Jones songwriting style so amiable and fun.
I recommend this album to a wide variety of music fans. I described it at the outset as “genre-defying” because it really touches on about four different music styles. That said, it’s just really good. The variety of instruments, styles, and songs on the album might seem like its just cobbled together, but really they jive nicely. With the major harmonies being the “thing” that ties them together, I’d be interested to hear how the songwriting happened on this album. It’s my hunch that they wrote some of these separately. All told, I’m looking forward to more from these folks. Do yourself a favor and check them out, especially “Make It Right” and “Undone.”