Review: Whitehorse trades vocals on classic country songs

“I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying,” Whitehorse (Six Shooter Records)

To start the album, she sings a drinking song. For the second tune, he sings a drinking song. On Whitehorse’s “I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying,” the singer-songwriter-husband-wife partnership Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland trade the lead and share their love of classic country music.

Twang has always been part of the Canadian duo’s repertoire, and while writing during the pandemic, they looked to the country sounds of a half century ago for inspiration. The result is a collection of tunes that are by turns weepy, funny, hooky, bouncy and lovely, echoing 1970s Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Austin and Nashville. Along with drinking, the coronavirus lockdown is a recurring topic, and Whitehorse also sings about gambling on love, the tug of home and toilet paper.

The arrangements are spare, wisely leaving the focus on the beautifully complementary vocals. McClelland and Doucet are both fine lead singers, and their harmonies can be savory or sweet. The voices weave around Burke Carroll’s pedal steel and Doucet’s distinctive electric guitar work, which makes his strings sound as thick as cable from one of the many construction cranes that dot today’s Nashville skyline. On “I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying,” retro becomes modern.


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