Heather Berry & Tony Mabe The Heather Berry & Tony Mabe Show (Mountain Fever Records)
Review by Art Menius for http://artmenius.com
North Carolina’s Heather Berry and Tony Mabe have found a wonderful niche in country couples duet music, from whence sprang folks from Lula Belle and Scotty Wiseman (Old Mountain Dew,” “Have I Told You Lately that I Love You”) to Robin & Linda Williams. Supported by Tom T. and Dixie Hall, who placed nine songs on their previous outing, Before Bluegrass, and aided on the new Heather Berry & Tony Mabe Show by Darrin Vincent, Jamie Collins, and Randy Cook, the pair offers a delightful blend of a 1940s sound, classic and original material, and the sublime enthusiasm of young lovers of traditional music.
Heather and Tony are some of the finest singers of Carter Family material of their generation. This project offers a version of “Little Darling, Pal of Mine” that I shall be playing on my WMMT-FM radio show a lot along with the straight up old-time “Live the Right Life Now.” Yet, they also venture out of their comfort zone successfully on the more contemporary (actually somewhat “Gentle on My Mind” sounding) “I Miss You Old Friend.” The different setting proves that Heather’s voice is everything Dixie and Tom T. say it is. Not that they are adverse to bluegrass, as demonstrated on “Freight Train,” one of the couple of tracks where Tony gets to sing lead. Heather handles most of the lead vocals, while playing clawhammer banjo, Autoharp, and guitar. Tony primarily picks lead guitar but also banjo and Autoharp.
Berry and Mabe convey an infectious joy in making music together. Despite their youth, they keep both their picking and singing understated like those they endeavor to emulate. Once again, Heather and Tony take us on a charming and consistently pleasant journey through the past.
The Heather Berry and Tony Mabe Show projects a more confident, diverse, and accomplished effort than the quite successfully Before Bluegrass.