The Watchmaker’s Wife sees duo Miranda Sykes (double bass) and Rex Preston (mandolin, bouzouki, tenor guitar) unite in a mix of traditional and contemporary songs of love and loss. The somewhat unusual combination of instruments join well to accompany beautifully delivered, gentle songs and execute some fine instrumentals.
The production style is uncluttered enabling the listener to concentrate on the words and music. The album has a gentle and easy-going feel to the arrangements but listen carefully to the lyrics - jolly tunes may mask a sad story.
The title track is led by Sykes on vocals - a poignant tale of a man who lavishes all his passion on his craft but neglects his wife. Preston takes the lead on SAD, but in each case the other half of the duo provides harmonies. The double bass provides a mournful contrast to the lively mandolin tune.
With song titles like Going to the West, Leaving and Exile’s Return, you know that this will be an album of loss and longing, but there is an element of hope in the final track where the message of parting contains the hope of being reunited. The popular Bonnie Light Horseman fits in well with this theme too and is well executed with changes in mood and some delicate instrumental passages.
There is skilled playing both in the songs and tunes. The instrumental passages in Good Natured Man have a feel of Hot Club de Paris about them. This also happens to be one of the happier songs. In Swedish, the instrumental parts weave in and out of each other. (Insert Name)’s Waltz is a lively instrumental with the instruments taking it in turns to come to the fore.
The combination of instruments may initially seem unusual but they work together to great effect on this album, complemented by some fine singing.Shelley Rainey
Released by Hands On Music 19th Feburary 2016
1. The Watchmaker’s Wife
4. Good Natured Man
6. Bonnie Light Horseman
7. Going to the West
8. Leaving Song
9. Waste of the Moon
10. (Insert Name)’s Waltz
11. Exile’s Return