Listening to Muscadine on Go Time Records, you might bet Joe and Kristen Sins grew up together in some crossroads town deep in the Texas countryside. Not so: Both are Californians, though neither is city folk; Kristen grew up in Sonora, on the edge of Yosemite National Park, while Joe’s roots are in Twentynine Palms, close to another wonder of Western nature, the Mojave Desert.
Yet here they are, joined in marriage and music on one of the strongest duo debuts of recent years. Joe has a little grit and twang in his tenor, while Kristen stretches from honeyed intimacy to dramatic upper-register flights. This contrast adds depth to their harmonies without compromising their solo prowess. They wrote each track together too, reflecting their ability to convey emotion with a vivid, even urgent eloquence. And their arrangements are interesting: A unison passage on “One Stoplight Town” symbolizes the passion of their union. Elsewhere, on the title track, they glide between fourths and sixths, with grace or punch as the music requires.
With Kent Wells producing, Muscadine has a guitar-heavy sound, mixed tastefully to energize rather than clash with the vocals. This approach electrifies a story of young love on “Romeo and Juliet Sparks” and, even more impressively, the heartbreaking narrative of a woman surrendering her newborn son to another mother on “She Gave It All Up.” This is a classic Country story song, delivered with the finesse, empathy and feeling it deserves.
IN HER OWN WORDS
FAVORITE FOOD ON THE ROAD
KRISTEN: “Popeye’s Chicken.”
JOE: “Del Taco, when I can find it.”
DREAM DUET PARTNER
KRISTEN: “Kenny Rogers.”
JOE: “My wife – and I get to live the dream! Otherwise, I would choose George Strait.”
TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY
JOE: “It’s Been a Helluva Ride.”
SOMETHING WE’D NEVER GUESS ABOUT YOU
KRISTEN: “I love to play Mario video games.”
JOE: “Keep guessing!”
On the Web: www.TheSinsCountry.com
On Twitter: @TheSinsCountry
By Bob Doerschuk
© 2013 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.