Consisting of a little bit of Cowboy Junkies atmosphere with the pop sensibilities of Fleetwood Mac and Aimee Mann, the up-and-coming duo Emith have created a winning sound and style that is equally thought-provoking and catchy. Building from a folk, pop and blues foundation, the versatile twosome wander easily from melodic, rootsy, organic creations to more ethereal, darkly cast ballads that dig into deeper emotional terrain.
Featuring singer/songwriter/guitarists Carol Ann Ives and Stevie Gurr, Emith work both as an acoustic duo and full-sounding electric band (when supplemented by a variety of LA pros on bass, keyboards and drums). The group's forthcoming full-length debut, 13 Seasons, offers a mixture of electric and acoustic soundscapes, with Gurr's tasteful guitar and harmonica work never overpowering the subtler vocal dynamics of Ives. Standout tracks include the haunting "Stone Fences" and "Stuck in Stark Relief," a lovely cover of the Beatles' sublime "I'll Follow the Sun," as well as the dryly humorous and quite snappy "San Bernardino."
Gurr, who has toured with Elvin Bishop and Dr. John, plays guitar with the understated grace of Leo Kottke, infusing each selection with his own individuality while still working in service of the song. It's not hard to see why Gurr and Ives have built a strong word-of-mouth buzz, particularly here in Southern California. Opening for British singer/songwriter Pete Morton this weekend in Anaheim offers Emith an opportunity to engage a folk-oriented audience with perhaps a bit more of an edge than they're used to. And I have no doubt Carol and Stevie will win them over.
Emith and Pete Morton at the Anaheim Downtown Community Center, 750 E. Center St., Anaheim, (949) 646-1964; www.thelivingtradtion.org . Sat., 7:30 p.m. $11-$14; children under 18, free with paying adult. All ages.