Several of the new songs deal with the complications of long-term on-and-off relationships, and they naturally lead the listener to speculate as to what degree they reflect the personal factors behind the band's ups and downs. But it really doesn't matter what those might be--the important thing is that James and Smith have found new resonances in old styles, and in so doing have created music that doesn't sound exactly like anything else out there. And, James says, "Bob Dylan taught me that you have to keep some mystery. Don't give it all away."
Elana James has relatives in this area, so the Hot Club of Cowtown generally brings it's A game when they play here. Their return to the Ark with their new music, on September 28, ought to be well worth checking out, partly because it's the kind of concert where almost anything could happen.
[Originally published in September, 2009.]