MARK ROGERS AND MARY BYRNE — I Line My Days Along Your Weight

Album: I Line My Days Along Your Weight

Artist: Mark Rogers and Mary Byrne

Label: Important

Release Date: October 14, 2014

Mark Rogers 10-28

http://importantrecords.com/imprec/imprec408

By JENNIFER KELLY

I Line My Days Along Your Weight is a quiet, precise album, couching minor epiphanies in subtle imagery and subdued acoustic guitar arrangements. The duo, Mark Rogers and Mary Byrne are married in real life. They play in careful, well-regulated sync. Byrne sings softly over her own strumming, while Rogers traces out blues fillips and folk flourishes with his instrument, occasionally joining for brief harmonies. There no big pay-offs, no dramatic crescendos, just a spare honesty and freshness.

Byrne has an MFA in creative writing, so the words have a finely honed specificity to them. You will not catch a lot of generalities or easy rhymes in these verses. Stillness infuses the situations she conjures, visiting a sick person in “Hospital,” riding a train north out of the city in “Cold Spring,” observing cut-glass prismic rainbows on her carpet in “Green Gold Violet” in the quiet afternoon. These songs are less stories than still lifes.

Likewise, Rogers plays minimally, but with imagination, mostly on acoustic guitar, occasionally (in “A Gracious Host” for instance), adding bits of twanging lap steel. His guitar figures are nimble and unstrained, even when evidently difficult, as on the solo in “Walk With Me.”  It is just the two of them throughout, recorded mostly live and without overdubs, no drums or bass.

The result is an album that takes some time to register and that, while pretty and delicate and sensitively shaded with feeling, doesn’t ever shake you to your foundations.  The sound is clear and pure and lovely, regularly paced, carefully modulated, but not very exciting. A little abrasiveness, a tiny bit of noise and clamor, might have gone a long way here.

DOWNLOAD: “Green Gold Violet”

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