Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: What the Brothers Sang

-- By KCRW Music Librarian and Host, Eric J. Lawrence

Although their hit-making days are nearly 50 years in the past (except for a brief revival in the country charts in the mid-80s), Don and Phil Everly still count as the most important vocal duo in the history of rock and roll.  Their perfectly crafted close harmonies have inspired groups from the original British Invasion to the modern alt-country scene.  But beyond the few tracks that you can catch on Oldies radio stations, much of their music has been off the mind and out of the ears of most of today’s music listeners.

That’s not to say that there aren’t artists today who still inspired by their music.  (Heck, Anthony Kiedis even named his son Everly in tribute.)  The most recent, and perhaps the greatest, such example is the new album-length collaboration between Faun Fables’ Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (aka Will Oldham), featuring their interpretations of songs sung by the brothers Everly.   The bulk of the selections come from the Everlys’ lesser-known late 60s/early 70s albums, with a mix of tracks written by Don Everly alongside those written by such legendary songsmiths as Kris Kristofferson, Carole King & Gerry Goffin, John Denver and others.

No matter if the songs aren’t automatically familiar to you Dawn and Will’s versions are gorgeous, distinctive and inspiring in their own right.  Performed alongside many of their frequent and regular collaborators on their own projects, they echo not only Don and Phi, but other great duet singers, particularly in the country idiom, such as Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons.  It’s a perfect way to revisit some classic tunes for modern times.

What the Brothers Sang will be available to stream on demand from Monday, February 18 through Feb 25, 2013.