When Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough first joined their soulful voices in song half a dozen years ago, they knew they were destined to make beautiful music together. Since then, they’ve showcased their instinctive vocal interplay and formidable song-crafting skills throughout North America and Europe; they’ve also collaborated on two albums, and become the best of friends.
But the Nashville-based pair had never released a recording as an official duo — a situation they finally remedied on January 27 with Mockingbird Soul. “We figured we might as well put both our names on it and just make it a thing,” says Kimbrough, “because the chemistry’s there, the writing’s there, the harmonies are there, and so is our mutual love of all the music these songs are derived from and inspired by.” That would be what he calls “the good stuff”: blues, gospel, early jazz and the country music those genres influenced, along with bluegrass, early rock ’n’ roll, folk … American roots music, in other words.
Though Kimbrough can play just about any noise-making object on the planet, the Americana Music Association’s 2004 Instrumentalist of the Year is renowned as a monster guitarist who’s collaborated and toured with Todd Snider, Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Jimmy Buffett and many others. (His songs have been recorded by a who’s who of the genre; he’s also produced several albums, including Snider’s East Nashville Skyline, in addition to his solo releases, and performs in Daddy, with Tommy Womack, and Willie SugarCapps.)
Though DeMeyer didn’t start writing songs until her early 20s, she made up for lost time with a series of solo albums. DeMeyer has opened for Bob Dylan and Gregg Allman, and toured with John Mayall; she was riding a train through France with Mayall when she listened to several instrumental noodlings Kimbrough had sent. One of them became the slide-sweetened, gospel-infused title tune.