How Jay Bennett and Ed Burch managed to find the time to make a record together is a mystery. In fact, Bennett chose to amicably bow out of his spot in the ever-popular Wilco in order to pursue this collaboration. Burch, however, continued with at least three other acts–most likely to the benefit of this project. If this album is any indication, the pair could well become the kings of throwback tunes. Thankfully, the songs veer away from being derivative, yet still evoke sounds from decades past.
“Puzzle Heart” plays on the structure of Terry Jacks’ syrupy “Seasons In The Sun” but surpasses it in musicianship and strum-along flavor, while “Shakin’ Sugar” proves that each guy owns at least one ELO album. The duo’s sound wavers between the alt-country twang they’re famous for and nostalgic pop/folk. Both artists are proficient with a number of instruments and this project provides them with the perfect opportunity to toss in whatever ingredients they choose, including pump organ and electric sitar. But it’s the voices of these two that really sell the music. Blending their vocals in a most sublime manner, the duo ice their musical cake with some extra tasty harmonies. You have to think that there are numerous songs among those recorded for this album that are lying around somewhere–dormant masterpieces that couldn’t make the cut on this 15-song roster. The question is: “How do I get my hands on them?”