Released in July of 2018, the record combines the elegant crafts of self-taught guitarist and vocalist Jeremy Dunham and classically trained cellist and singer Kerrine Gifford, who both connected while working on a music project for a mutual friend. Inseparable ever since, the band named themselves Sweet Sweet, mirrored by the concept that they were each sweet in their own ways. The duo’s sound finds its influence through the picturesque compositions of Gregory Alan Isocov and Nathaniel Rateliff, illustrating stories using poetic melodies and emotional arrangements.
The album opens with “Wild Gardenias,” a track filtered in soft, sepia hues, where sliding guitars and intricate riffs set the foundation for Dunham’s vintage-infused vocal. In their second track “Roam,” lively strums keep pace with the driving beat, while splendid harmonies and Gifford’s cello expertise make their first impression. Not only does the song embody the energy of embarking on a road trip, but it also describes the actual experience of one – the adventure of finding a home everywhere you go.
“Over the Hill” is a hand-clapping and foot-stomping peace of mind about the journey back home after a long time gone. A pleasant listen, the song is paralleled to morning sunlight and brilliant greenery. Their fourth track, “Color,” possesses wisps of reverb-rich layers that are as gentle as leaves scattering in the wind and as warm as the feeling of skin soaking in the sun on a fall afternoon. Dunham and Gifford, with their tranquil voices, urge the listener to “dream in color” so that one can prevent themselves from drowning in the greys of second-guessing and lack of motivation.
One of the most nonlinear songs on the record is “Photographs and Epitaphs,” characterized by various unique scenes including a resounding a capella intro, a beautiful cello solo leading into a chorus chant, and a compelling musical crescendo suddenly dropping into Dunham’s lone voice paired with low pizzicatos. Prolific artistry at its finest, this one made me particularly emotional.
The pizzicatos continue in “Where Are We?” as the pair bounce off each other in a duet depicting two sides of a relationship that appears to be crumbling towards its unfortunate end.
“Moon into Motion” puts marching drums and a resonant piano in the spotlight, while detailing an expression of holding onto the good moments in life like a vice, effortlessly transitioning into “Hello” that follows the perspective of an ill father to a daughter, an estranged relationship with a brother, and a new father to a new-born son. A pulsing piano, delicate guitar riffs, and expressive cello sweeps accompany the sentiment of calling out to those you love regardless of the circumstance.
Serious, profound undertones encompass “History,” a track that questions who you are and what to trust, while asking for guidance and wisdom from past familial generations in order to move forward. With anxiety over history repeating itself and a lifetime lacking a story, Dunham sings of a charged, relatable concern that most people never find assurance for.
Sticking to the dark themes, the record’s closer, “Flies in a Jar,” metaphorically illustrates wishing and waiting for the future without the control over what will happen. A slow drum beat alongside an eerie tremolo escalates until an instrumental breakdown ensues, suddenly faltering back into the heavy mood from the beginning, while hypnotic harmonies bring down the curtain of a musical embodiment well-done.
This entire record moved me in ways I never imagined. It’s a goosebump-inducing, luminous chill that keeps on giving amidst each new melody and chord. Under the heat of the sun and the glow of the moon, there is something quite special here.