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Carrie Rodriguez, Ben Kyle duet on rootsy covers and originals

Rodriguez and Kyle.jpg

The initial plan was to record a quick-and-loose, limited-edition five-song EP.

But singer/violinist/guitarist Carrie Rodriguez and singer/guitarist Ben Kyle got on a roll and recorded eight songs over the course of two days in Berkeley, Calif., at the studios of the Ninth Street Opus label.

That’s the basic story behind We Still Love Our Country, which finds past tourmates Rodriguez (who has worked with Chip Taylor and Los Lonely Boys) and Kyle (a member of the Minneapolis band Romantica) on common, rootsy musical ground.

Kyle recently offered some thoughts on five of the songs included on Country.

* “Your Lonely Heart,” a Kyle original.
Ben Kyle: “I was wide awake at three in the morning after the first day of recording, and as I couldn’t sleep, I figured I’d try working on a song. It came to me then, and I finished it over breakfast. When we got to the studio, I played it for everyone, and this album version was the second take. The song was less than 10 hours old!”

* “If I Needed You,” written by the late Townes Van Zandt (a huge influence on Steve Earle and others).
Kyle: “Is this not the quintessential love song? This song came to Townes in a dream, and it really does have an otherworldly feel. Even though the content is so human, it harks from a spiritual realm.”

* “Big Kiss,” written by the aforementioned Taylor, best known for composing “Wild Thing” (a big hit for The Troggs) and “Angel of the Morning” (Merrilee Rush).
Kyle: “Carrie and I had sung this one together from nearly the first time we played together, and it always had a sort of magic on the stage [that] we hoped would translate onto the recording.”

* “You’re Still on My Mind,” written by Luke McDaniel.
Kyle: “Some songs you just choose because the”re so fun to sing, and this is definitely one of them. Broken hearts and bottles of wine make for good material. And there’s a feeling that the victim of a broken heart in this song is rather enjoying his situation — or at least singing about it is quite easing the pain. It’s quite triumphant feeling, really, considering the subject is the blues.”

* “My Baby’s Gone,” written by Hazel Houser.
Kyle: “Another fun one to sing. It’s really quite cathartic to sing out, with passion and in harmony, this song about longing and loss. The melody delivers the content really perfectly, and I think it really suits our voices.”

— By Chris M. Junior

Carrie Rodriguez on tour (schedule subject to change):

* Feb. 13: Old Town School of Folk Music — Chicago
* Feb. 14: Old Rock House — St. Louis
* Feb. 15: Knuckleheads Saloon — Kansas City, Mo.
* Feb. 16: The Blue Door — Oklahama City
* Feb. 17: Memphis Downtown Marriott and Convention Center — Memphis
* Feb. 18: Ogden Museum — New Orleans
* Feb. 19: St. James Church — Jackson, Miss.
* Feb. 20: McGonigel’s Mucky Duck — Houston
* Feb. 22: Cactus Café — Austin, Texas
* Feb. 23: Lakewood Theater— Dallas

Romantica on tour (schedule subject to change):

* March 3: Kieran’s Irish Pub — Minneapolis
* March 9: Headliner’s — Ames, Iowa
* March 11: The Evening Muse — Charlotte, N.C.
* March 12: Music on Maxwell — Greenwood, S.C.
* March 13: Washington Park — Macon, Ga.