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The Better Halves
©2011 Independently released
Review by Lucky Boyd


I’ve checked, and these two are not the offspring of Lu Mitchell, though you couldn’t tell it from some of the comedy in their music.  What a wonderful patch of green grass goodness in an otherwise gloomy world, musically speaking.  The Better Halves have released a fantastic collection of their duets, which, for a lack of description, could almost be called children’s music for adults.  There are no downers here, just one ‘feel good’ track after another.  Funny at times, poignant when necessary, you’ll enjoy this masterful performance. Something will speak to you.  It could be the retro sound of “Carnival Dreams” featuring the near-calliope keyboard work of Chip Dolan (yes, THE Chip Dolan).  It could be the swing sounds of “There Ain’t A Cow In Texas.” It might be the humor of “Baby, It’s Hot Outside” or the Rogers and Hammerstein-ish “Getting Nowhere” (in which you will be introduced to the ‘Wackydoodle’, which you might know as a vibra-slap, but some people call it a quijada, which is a misnomer because the original quijadas were made of a donkey jawbone.  How did we get here?).  A masterpiece of the album is “The Captain And The Mermaid.”  Guest appearances by Sara Hickman and fellow MTM member Ken Gaines (2005 Texas Music Awards Singer/Songwriter of the Year) really put this ditty together as a treasured feature of the project, especially with the siren-like cello performance of Mollie Fischer.  There is one more aspect of the album that you won’t know about unless I tell you.  There are two outstanding instrumentals on the disc.  Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” is an amazing thing to hear on guitar.  But the gem of the two is Natalicio Lima’s “Blue Angel.”  I could spend another page or two on Lima, but you’ll have to do your own research to appreciate this Brazilian genius.  Jimmy Joe Natoli’s guitar work is stellar throughout and the other half, Chrissie Natoli has a voice that is nothing short of mesmerizing.  This is not your typical release.  There are no drinking or cheating songs, per se, so you’ll walk away feeling uplifted, enriched, and entertained.  Co-produced with TMA nominee Tommy Byrd, the disc is well recorded.  As for sound, Jerry Tubb mastered the disc.  Need I say more?  In case you’re wondering, the album’s title roughly translated means, “without the presence of a third person.”  Now you know.  Get The Better Halves today, and don’t be a ‘halves’ not.  Without the punster, Steve Brooks, that’s the best I could do.      

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The Better Halves