Given the first half of their moniker, it's no surprise that The Cowboy & The Frenchman lope through the verses of "Two Ships," which is drawn from a demo the indie duo made available for aural consumption late last year. What is surprising is how the local twosome manage to be simultaneously wistful and jaunty.
I guess you'd classify "Two Ships" as a cowboy song; however, the gentle, half-whispered man-boy vocals also drag it into the land of Silver Jews and other out-of-kilter indie souls. A ghostly background singer (the Frenchman?) who essentially doubles each verse in a wan, marginally tuneful voice indicates why the pair named themselves after a short film that Middle American surrealist David Lynch shot for French television. This is haunting material, despite the overlay of palliation and calm. And the addition of some vague slide guitar and brisk brush-work on snare drum that hints at a raucous shift to full-on country rocking that never appears demonstrates that the duo thought a lot about how to send shivers up the listener's spine.
To put it another away, although they may be shy, reflective souls, The Cowboy & The Frenchman ratchet up the tension with a vengeance. This is very much a demo, and the sound quality is a little strange in parts (e.g., the lead vocal is pushed to the point of distortion in the mid-range), but it's also strangely addictive.
An MP3 of the track are available in the related downloads at right. The Cowboy & The Frenchman are playing at the High Noon Saloon on Sunday, March 16, in a late night show opening for Shazy Hade and Ladyhawk.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.