Aug. 31 2011 06:00 PM

Superb EP calls to mind some of the most grandiose co-ed country duets

jm-jm-front-cover-hi-res---ryan-allan
John Meeks and Joanie Mendenhall
Photo by Ryan Allan
John Meeks & Joanie Mendenhall
From My Grave EP (Loud + Clear)

Anyone who's seen John Meeks live knows that, while there are many highlights, the real sparks fly when the country troubadour asks Joanie Mendenhall to join him on stage. I won't get too grandiose with the comparisons (Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, George Jones and Dolly Parton, Ryan Adams and Caitlin Cary -- OK, so I did, so what?), but I can claim with as much sincerity as a pissed-off Merle Haggard record that From My Grave is some of the best co-ed country duets I've heard in a long time.

Where Meeks' work may have seemed appropriately rough-around-the-edges in the past, Mendenhall not only brilliantly plays the proverbial yin to his yang, but she also brings the masterful sense of pop songcraft that she's displayed on her solo albums. This may be her best work yet, even if she isn't center stage.

The EP's lyrics rarely move past the standard hyperbole found in most country music. On paper, seemingly simple lines like “I can't bear to lose you tonight” and “You hold me close and I'll hold you closer” don't read as particularly brilliant. Then again, neither do lyrics to classic songs like “You Were Always on my Mind” and “I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

Like the best country music, the songs demand that the listener look beyond the superficial -- the real magic is not in what's being said, but how it's being said.

From My Grave shows two distinguished yet underappreciated singer-songwriters at the top of their game. I can only hope that these five songs are a prelude of more to come.

John Meeks and Joanie Mendenhall will celebrate the release of From My Grave with Bryan John Appleby at Tin Can Ale House on Saturday, Sept. 3.

Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28