Two Houses

A review by Lorna Stevenson

Two HousesTwo Houses marked a second break into the music business for both Paul Gross and David Keeley back in 1997. Described by Paul as a mixture of folk, rock, hip-hop and big-band torch songs, the CD comprises a wide range of melodies from the sentimental tones of Ride Forever to the humorous twang of Man on a Bicycle. After the original ten-song release in North America, the European pressing, released in the UK in 1998, also included 32 Down on the Robert Mackensie as the first track.

Probably most familiar will be Ride Forever which will indeed forever be etched on the memories of due South fans, the sight of Leslie Nielsen and thirty-one Royal Canadian Mounted Police singing it in All the Queen's Horses not being something readily forgotten! Similarly, 32 Down on the Robert Mackensie was used in the third season episode Mountie on the Bounty.

David Keeley has the opportunity in the songs Desert and Rain, Promise Us The Night and Papa's Front Porch to stretch his rather impressive vocal talents. Even so, it has to be said that Paul does sing very obvious backing vocals in Desert and Rain, which could easily be perceived as more of a duet - the harmonies are wonderful. This song in particular makes wonderful use of lyrics with metaphors aplenty . . .

When my firebrand soul lashes out in vain,
the sky opens up, and you cool me again.
On the lighter side is Man on a Bicycle, a humorous look at family life. Paul is adamant that this song was not written about his father, but the lyrics,
My father was a man, once ran an army . . .
seem a bit too close to home for this to be a neatly contrived coincidence! Definitely a song well worth a listen, one in which the listener is guaranteed to be tapping their feet and humming along by the end of the chorus. In a similar way, the title track Two Houses has a serious side deep down, but the subject is dealt with in a very light manner. Voodoo also displays powerful lyrics, with a combination of electric and acoustic guitar which is something really special to listen to.

The final tracks Papa's Front Porch and After the War are poignant to say the least; again, serious topics are dealt with using masterful lyrics, and with a moving combination of violin and guitar. Two Houses is definitely one for the collection. If you're a country fan, buy it. If not, buy it anyway. Overall, the wide range of songs gives this album the potential to be enjoyed by many. It has something for everyone, although I'm sorry to say, Big Band fans will be disappointed . . . I've yet to hear where the big band features!