Utah Carol

Album Title: Rodeo Queen
Release Date: May 15, 2007
Genre: Indie
It has taken them 3 albums to get there, but Utah Carol's members have finally gotten their heads straight. For the first time in its brief career, the duo has released a record on which the band sounds like itself, a focused effort through and through.

The Chicago tandem, comprised of Grant Birkenbeuel and Jinja Davis, has released the first folk-pop gem of the year in Rodeo Queen. For this album, Utah Carol has decided to stray from the formula of previous efforts and have rallied around one predominant sonic theme. The record is mellow and soothing while remaining vivid enough in its lyrics and sound to keep listeners coming back for more. The male/female vocal approach constitutes the driving force of Utah Carol; and this aesthetic is reminiscent of Page France and the Michael Nau/Whitney McGraw dynamic. This makes for a perfectly angelic, honeyed texture that is held up for Rodeo Queen's entire duration. The vocals are unquestionably the appeal of the duo and while Utah Carol's instrumentation is interesting (with horns, organs, and vibraphones all making appearances on the album), the vocal harmonies are executed with such flair that it becomes difficult for listeners to revel in anything other than the twosome's remarkable chemistry.

On past albums, there were instances when Utah Carol would diverge from what worked so well for them and would indulge in quicker, jauntier numbers. These tracks aren't terrible per se, but they certainly don't stack up to the easy-going, cushy tracks heard when Utah Carol is in its element. And now that the Birkenbeuel and Davis seem comfortable with the urban lonesome-cowboy tales they've weaved, it is safe to say that Rodeo Queen is easily their strongest effort to date.

Writer: Vinh Cao

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