Music Reviews

Watchhouse Watchhouse (Duo)

(Tiptoe Tiger Music) Rating - 8/10

For a not-so-small segment of fans of the group formerly known as Mandolin Orange, here is a short list of the most horrible things that happened in America in 2021: 1) Storming of the Capitol Building by domestic terrorists; 2) Mandolin Orange name change. That’s only partly in jest, but the re-recorded self-titled Watchhouse album may be just the olive branch that a segment of fans is looking for. If the current century’s version of Dylan going electric was too much for you, Watchhouse (Duo) finds Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz presenting the songs in stripped-down acoustic versions. Just the two of them. Better Way manages to retain some of the psychedelic flourishes of the original version, but mainly, Marlin and Frantz present understated folky renditions that echo the quiet of their Tides of a Teardrop album. The unadorned arrangements particularly benefit Frantz’s more delicate vocals, the final few lines of Upside Down being particularly gut-punching in their delivery. Watchhouse 2.0 is every bit as pleasing as the original version and maybe more so for longtime fans, but unlike what happened in D.C., they’re going to have to forgive the band’s transgression at some point.