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The Lowest Pair had been planning to release a new record in the Spring of 2016. So in early 2015 Palmer convinced Kendl to spend a winter in Minnesota, with the temptation of working with local greats Dave Simonett and Erik Koskinen on the new material. The duo then set off on what would be a successful season of touring their second, critically acclaimed album, The Sacred Heart Sessions (Spin: “solemn and humble;” The Bluegrass Situation: “deeply felt”), and a new-old-time record, I Reckon I’m Fixin’ On Kickin’ Round To Pick A Little. In the fall, returning to the midwest to finish up the recordings they had begun a few months prior, Kendl and Palmer found themselves with a whole new batch of songs ready to lay down. After much deliberation, they ambitiously decided the two collections should be released together in 2016.
The new records, Fern Girl and Ice Man, as well as Uncertain As It Is Uneven, could be viewed as two windows into the growing and changing world of The Lowest Pair. Uncertain stays the course of their previous releases, being focused on stripped down, intimate arrangements to support their timeless songwriting and haunting vocals. Fern Girl i s a more moody and adventurous exploration of new sounds, new studio production directions, and what it might sound like for The Lowest Pair to be supported by a full band, while keeping one foot planted in the rootsy aesthetics which drew them together from the beginning.
Fans already know that the chemistry between Palmer’s Midwestern charm, those long winters spent listening to a steady diet of Townes Van Zandt and John Hartford, and Kendl’s poetic and playful way with words, her unique approach to the banjo, and her barefoot-in- the-cool-river-water mystique combine to make a powerful sound, but what’s new in 2016 is both the inclusion of those non-banjo sounds (harmonica, drum, bass, violin) and an incredible expansion of their songbook. In a way, two records, the playful and the hush, the dark and the rooted, the pillow and the nightmare, the pin drop and the starry night; the juxtaposition of the ups and downs that are experiences in a day, in a year, in a minute, all this has demanded from the band more than just “a new record.” Fern Girl and Ice Man and Uncertain As It Is Uneven mark the arrival of America’s next great musical duo, and it’s over the course of these two albums that that boast becomes clearly rooted in truth.