On their third studio album, husband-and-wife duo Joey + Rory take a new approach to their musical partnership. Like that invisible tape marking off a section of the house for her things and his stuff, His and Hers is split into songs where Joey sings lead and others where Rory does the honor. The project, which is available now, retains Joey + Rory’s traditional, acoustic-based country sound; yet the fresh dynamic allows for both Joey and Rory to show off their unique qualities and personal touches.
His and Hers doesn’t include the duets and vocal trading we’ve come to expect from the ACM award-winning duo. While songs like the approachable ballad “Waiting for Someone” features Rory’s harmonies in the chorus, it’s Joey’s sweet, hickory-smoked voice that carries the melody. On “Cryin’ Smile,” Rory’s vocal lead flows over fiddle and acoustic notes before Joey joins gently through the refrain. The song, about finding joy in all things, hinges on Rory’s complex vocal relating the bittersweet theme.
Joey’s voice is stunning throughout the collection. On the moving, piano-based “When I’m Gone,” she sings with a tenderness and feeling that illustrates an intimate connection with the music. Her command, moving through the somber progression, is riveting as she grabs the listener with potent lines like, You’ll wonder how you’ll carry on. On the loose barnhouse rocker, “Love Your Man,” she rolls fast, singing, See that couple there in their rockin’ chairs / They’ve been together 50 years / You can sure bet they didn’t stay that way without a bunch of sweat and tears, with exciting precision.
Rory wrote or co-wrote more than half the songs on the project. The galloping epic, “Josephine,” which Rory penned solo, opens the album. The Civil War-era story tells the first-person account of a soldier writing home when faced with uncertainty. Rory’s words are teemed with urgency as he sings, I love you, I love you, I love you, Josephine. Though set 150 years in the past, the message delivers on the complicated and universal feelings of war.
Rory has an eye for detail. On the poignant “Teaching Me How To Love You,” blossoming young love at the Dairy Queen begins a tale of how each relationship prepares you for The One. Every hand we hold, every bridge we burn, he sings wisely, allowing the listener into his world with Joey. This open honesty rings true between the old-time piano and fiddle combo on “Someday When I Grow Up,” when he sings reluctantly, I’ll stop believing we can be the next Johnny and June, before adding quickly, I hope I don’t grow up anytime soon.
Produced by Gary Paczosa, His and Hers features rich, warm acoustic layers. Whether it’s the rockabilly-influenced strut of “Let’s Pretend We Never Met” or the open, breathing Western feel of “He’s A Cowboy,” the production allows the instruments to find their place with a pure tone and a life energy.
The finest song on the record just may be the title track. “His and Hers” is classic, heartbreaking country music. Joey navigates the ¾-time and continuous key changes with the graceful ease of Tammy Wynette. And though the story of the song is that of a diverging marriage, the true essence of His and Hers is an engrossing look at what makes both Joey and Rory unique, while also filling the air with the undeniable chemistry they have together.
Key Tracks – “Teaching Me How To Love You,” “His and Hers,” “When I’m Gone,” “Josephine”