TITLE: GREEN

ARTIST: SABRINA & CRAIG

LABEL: LIONESS / BRONZE MEDAL MUSIC

RELEASE DATE: 2015

By Jackie Morris

Sabrina  Craig - GREENA work of passion and perfection, Sabrina & Craig’s second joint album, GREEN, wastes no time in sweeping you away with sweet melodies, dynamic rhythms, brilliant finger-style guitar, and the gorgeous harmonies that have become the duo’s trademark.

All eleven tracks are original –written by either Sabrina Schneppat or Craig Lincoln – and they flow easily together in a refreshing variety of styles ranging from folk to old-timey, from blues to ballads, from jazzy lounge numbers to toe-tapping Americana.

In addition to their own stellar performances on guitar (Craig) and ukulele (Sabrina), Sabrina & Craig have colored each of these diverse stylings with different instrumentation – treating us in turn to a little virtuoso trombone, clarinet, piano or 5-string violin...as well as, of course, some stand-out rhythm and bass throughout. Sometimes their playing is complemented by the electric, Baritone or hi-strung guitar or dobro of co-producer, Steve Postell…by Craig's harmonica…or Sabrina's bass (on two songs); and sometimes, a little banjo, mandolin, keyboard and accordion, accents the mix. All this, I should add, includes some of the finest sidemen on the L.A. scene. But more on that to follow....

The album opens dramatically with Craig’s dynamic guitar intro to Indigo – a fast-paced, exciting celebration of twilight and its seductive mystery. His guitar is soon joined by the clear-as-a-bell voice of Sabrina; then the chorus blossoms into luscious, tight harmony. This is a high bar to follow, but Green, the title track, rises to the occasion. Backed by Sabrina’s uke, it is a soft, sweet, extremely melodic song that verbally plays on the many manifestations of green – from the landscape surrounding us, to the green eyes of Sabrina’s lover, to her envy of friends with more traditional family lifestyles. After each verse, she concludes, “Green is washing over me,” in a very catchy chorus. It’s very easy to come away humming this one! But listen closely: the lovely melody is delicately woven with keyboards by Peter Adams, and the beautiful 5-string violin of Jessy Greene.

The next track, Going Home, is a memorable twist on the “you can’t go home again” theme.  It is written from the viewpoint of a husband whose wife is about to fly back home for a family reunion. The event is not specified, but the feelings are well captured in some great metaphors: “Everything she thinks she needs is impossible to pack. She’s filled beyond capacity and still afraid of what she’ll lack.” The poignant twist occurs when his wife returns, sadder and wiser - but comforted by the realization that the two of them are, in fact, “going home”...together. Lighting up this track is Dan Levitt’s “fancy banjo” (an amazing hand-made instrument that sounds more like a lute or harpsichord than a banjo)...Adam’s piano...and the stellar drums of Steve “Stevie D” DiStanislao.

Sabrina  CraigOne of my personal favorites on this album is a cool, bluesy instrumental called Crawdad. It opens with the sounds of birds chirping, and has a “feel-good,” kick-back melody with killer guitar riffs and a little toe-tapping percussion. This “good times in paradise” theme is continued in the next song, Hawaii, which takes your imagination on vacation from the first sounds of waves washing on the shore. It’s filled with vivid imagery of “flip flops, tank tops, two-dollar hats,” and, of course, the requisite uke and electric slide guitar accompaniment. But what really captures the island vibe is the amazing harmony of Sabrina and Craig....whose liquid voices seem to rise and fall in cool waves of relaxing sound.

And now that you’re totally relaxed, it’s time for A Brand New Day, one of the most upbeat songs I have ever heard. Like an old-time, jazzy, “period piece” (think Roaring ‘20s) the song is brimming with cheerful energy and optimism. Epitomizing this “retro” sound is the swinging clarinet of Dino Soldo. And there are more old-timey originals to come! Dreaming of You makes you want to turn down the lights and slow dance, as Bob McChesney masterfully creates a smoky cabaret atmosphere with his trombone. And Maybe I’m Falling in Love is an unabashedly old-fashioned duet, with nuanced, dreamy harmonies.

And still there are others – ballads, blues and Americana – including the fast-paced The River Runs, with its exciting rhythms and harmonies. All have been masterfully produced by Steve Postell, Sabrina Schneppat, and Craig Lincoln.

One final tip for the listener: This is a carefully nuanced, sophisticated production and really benefits from a good set of speakers. It’s worth the careful listen!

A New York transplant to the tiny town of Carpinteria, CA, Jackie is a freelance writer by profession and a singer-songwriter by passion. Her third album of original Folk/Americana songs was among Top Folk Albums of 2011 on the Folk Music Radio Airplay Charts, and her new newly-released fourth album, Can't Fix Crazy, is among Top Folk Albums of May 2014. Jackie is also an active member in such acoustic music communities as SummerSongs, SongMakers, and FARWest Folk Alliance.