Miles and Simone – Home In My Heart
It feels like that’s exactly how Simone Page Jones and Miles O’Neil recorded this indie folk/country offering of 10 beautifully crafted but simply constructed songs. You can almost feel them sitting on the front step next to you, just a couple of good mates twangin’ away as the sun gets low. These songs could have been recorded 20, 40, even 50 years ago, yet there is a wonderful contemporary feel that runs through them.
Beautiful tones of pedal steel, plucky banjo and a battered old piano are layered under the light and dark pairing of Jones and O’Neil vocals. Her Katie Noonan white silk to his Leonard Cohen black velvet.
In fact the reality is not far from that. These two old friends started whiling away afternoons playing songs in O’Neil’s backyard and eventually recorded them in his spare room. Australian singer/songwriter Darren Hanlon got his hands on the masters and took them to folk mecca, The Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon. Renowned engineer Adam Selzer stepped in and with the help of some local Portland players, has produced a gem.
Simone Page Jones, an award winning cabaret artist, actress, dancer, song writer and singer with an amazing operatic voice, is part of The Lovebirds, a provocative cabaret act from Melbourne. Miles O’Neil, also a Melbournite, has plied his trade with Suitcase Royale, a theatre comedy ensemble and self labeled junkyard music group.
To create an album like ‘Home in Your Heart’ with no sequined costumes or feather boas in sight, must have taken great discipline from two performers so used to the chaos of theatre, with a collection of songs so stripped back you can feel a dusty wind blowing down a wide open road.
Selzer’s expert hand and light folky touch can be felt on tracks like, ‘I Recall’, ‘A Holiday’, ‘I Don’t Care’ and ‘Lightning Girl’. Slow, melodic duets that pick you up and take you away. Simple steady acoustic guitar with the odd little touches of pedal steel and banjo let the O’Neil and Jones effortless vocals tell their story without interference, yet you feel you can almost hear every note being played under the narrative. There’s genuine Nashville country blues elements in tracks like ‘Blue’ and ‘Let’s Make Believe We’re Lovers’. ‘Caroline’ in particular is straight out of an old 50’s western with a campfire strummed guitar and the crooning couple obviously arm in arm and howling at the moon. O’Neil’s vocals sound softer and lighter in ‘The Avalanche’ and ‘Mathew and Juliet’ when he takes these on solo. As does Jones voice strengthen in her beautiful version of ‘Birdie’. But these tracks only underline the point of difference of this albums ability to blend the soprano and baritone layers in the other tracks.
The louder you can play Home in Your Heart the better. O’Neil’s voice just gets blacker and Jones just gets whiter, and the 50 plus shades of grey in the middle just get awesome.
Home in Your Heart is one of those albums that on first listen you think you’d heard before in a hundred different folk and old country recordings. But after a few listens, when you here the softly plucked banjo in the first notes of ‘I Recall’ at the start of the album, you just want to put your feet on the desk and take it in. So stick with it, because it finds a way into your soul and creates its own unique sound along the way.
Here’s the clip for their single from the album; And check out their awesome website.