Writing and recording widescreen and cinematic music, where mood and atmosphere is paramount, and conveying it with minimal instrumentation shows both great restraint and ambition. That is exactly the musical world that Jessica Cassar and Darren Cross (Gerling) have created on their debut album Word Got Out.
The cover image of the pair stepping out of darkness and into an unknown light sums up the approach they’ve taken both artistically and aesthetically, from the black & white artwork to the rich noir romanticism in their songs that reads like a Wim Wenders tale of lovers entwined or one of Jim Jarmusch’s alternative realities.
The core of the album rides on Cross’ acoustic guitar and the duo’s voices that complement each other so wonderfully well. These aren’t just sweet duets, they speak of doomed relationships, dark corners and emotional shadows and Cassar’s voice negotiates those different moods with great versatility, swinging from a folk coo (‘My Man’) to an anguished and impassioned plea (‘Bobby’) or the gently soaring melancholia on ‘Wake Up Call’. Cross almost plays a supporting role, an echo or a counterpoint, a conversational partner or a sparring one. He delivers his words in a weary tone with a similar happy/sad quality to that of the masterful Townes Van Zandt.
There is drama aplenty in these songs yet they never shy away from a hook. ‘Babe Come Down’ buries itself in your short term memory with its catchiness, second single ‘Granted’ swirls and billows on a bed of stirring strings while ‘Bobby’ could be a lost Motown single by The Supremes in a parallel monochrome universe. ‘Tears In The Rain’ possesses the brilliant central line “You can’t hide your tears in the rain” which comes over like a gothic Lee and Nancy or Cave and Minogue if they were able to kick back and write songs together without the veil of celebrity killing the party.
Ten songs in thirty minutes and nothing outstays its welcome. This is an album built on the back of well-written songs and arranged, sung and played with an eye for detail and the concise deployment of subtle theatricality. It conveys emotion, transports the listener and creates captivating vignettes that pull you in deeper and deeper on each listen.
Buy Word Got Out via Bandcamp