The development of a second album can be a preposterously complicated task. Most of the time, if your debut did well then you are forced into two options: 1) Make an album in the similar vein and be quick to cash in on the hype or 2) Take your time and make an album that alters your opening sound with stark differences. Well, what if you combine these two choices? Then you’re really asking for it.
The Dutchess and the Duke duo, Jesse Lortz and Kimberly Morrison, wasted no time to record and release their new album, Sunset / Sunrise. Maybe it was because Lortz had a baby boy on the way and they were pressed for time but whatever it is, it’s worked for the best with an album that features new touches sprinkled all around. They’ve added strings, a few pianos and have even added more bass and drums on an album that Lortz states “was written for the studio.”
What’s even better is that these new choices haven’t taken away from the endearing charm that was prevalent all over She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke. On “Scorpio,” the two melt their vocals and combine them into a swaying amount of tenderness. Letting go of the bitterly cold subject matter that clouded their debut, a lot of the lyrics are about moving on and focusing on not only getting better with yourself but with your life. This time, along with the strum of a guitar and the pair’s harmonizing vocals (uniquely bright as Morrison often takes the lower line) there is the addition of stunning strings. Filling the spaces, there is a special allure to this one delicate and enchanting twist.
Morrison makes sure to get her fair due with her own solo songs that find her in moments of songwriting magic. “When You Leave My Arms” is a kiss-off that begs for her man to finally leave so she can move on. Combined with a mesmerizing guitar part, Morrison sings, “I can taste her lips on yours when I give you a kiss each night” and although she knows she’s the better one for him, she just wants to be set free. Elsewhere, the two make one of their better songs to date with “Sunrise/Sunset.” That Rolling Stones-like guitar is back as the two effortlessly sing, “We belong to tomorrow and yesterday.”
One big difference is all of the work that producer Greg Ashley contributed to the album. Offering his studio and following that with producing, recording, mixing and mastering all of Sunset / Sunrise, it’s safe to assume that he was the untitled third member of this band. It takes a lot for a band to start using the studio as another instrument but it seems as if the duo are growing by leaps and bounds. The charismatic enchantment tends to the music with an attractive blend of lure and appeal. Moreover, there’s enough to turn people who shied away from the debut into new fans.
Ultimately, Sunset / Sunrise is a wonderful follow-up for the duo because of how well they are able to combine the best aspects from their debut with new found options. It serves them well, seeing as how She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke was not only one of the better albums of 2008 but one of the most unfairly underrated too. With every press release and review mentioning that Lortz just had his first child, congratulations is in store but here’s to hoping it doesn’t stifle the peak The Dutchess and the Duke have clearly reached.
“Living this Life” by The Dutchess and the Duke