Guitarists and songwriters John Hermanson and Chris Cunningham have released a live album from their 30-year career performing as the Bozeman folk duo Storyhill. It highlights songs from shows they played from 2003-2015 at various venues in Minnesota, as well as two previously unreleased songs.
The long-lived and much-loved twosome split up to pursue other musical endeavors, and attend to family obligations. They reunited, and then went on a long hiatus in 2015. They are touring again and getting rave reviews.
The men’s voices share a style popularized by the Everly Brothers starting in the mid-’50s, and later by groups like Seals and Crofts, Stills and Young, and others. Too, wisps of Dan Fogelberg come to mind at times. They swap leads and chime harmonies with flair to some smooth and masterly acoustic pickin’, and you can hear how their voices have matured over time.
Cunningham’s is the higher voice. He sings a pretty falsetto with ease on “Background for Your Blue,” from 2003. On “Highlight,” from 2015, Hermanson’s deeper baritone complements Cunningham’s sound and provides contrast.
“Better Angels,” from 2008, has a gospel feel and a little John Denver magic woven in. They channel a bit of Simon and Garfunkel on “World Go Round,” from 2015; and “Sacramento” (2014) is a quiet, thoughtful ballad with a clever bend in the chord progression to go along with its pretty melody.
“Well of Sorrow” has unison lead and some cool “oohs.” Both singers possess terrific control, making it easy to synchronize breath and phrasing.
They lull us with their well-paced dynamics and lovely inflections, reminding us how terrific they have been over the years. You’ll find lots to love on the 16 tracks of this immaculately produced recording. Hooray for retrospectives!
The duo makes a tour through Montana in December with concerts in Gardiner, Helena, Kalispell and Missoula. Visit the artists at storyhill.com.
– Mariss McTucker