11/12/13 (Dead Reckoning)

kieran and kevin album

Imagine you're on the back porch, just after dusk, relaxing with a couple of friends. Each has a guitar and takes turns singing songs - some original, some borrowed - one after another in a good-hearted game of musical one-upmanship.

Now imagine your friends are boundlessly talented singer/songwriters Kieran Kane and Kevin Welch, and you've got the idea of 11/12/13, a vivid document of the pair's two November 1999 shows in Melbourne, Australia.

The album is strictly democratic - six songs apiece from each of these alternative country veterans, who between them have written songs recorded by the likes of Alan Jackson and Wynonna. (In fact, Kieran had a few of his own hits in the '80s as half of The O'Kanes.) Highlights include Kevin's dramatic "Wilson's Tracks" and Kieran's heartbreaking "Four Questions." Kevin's "Sam's Town" is a satisfying yarn about the importance of community and gratitude, while Kieran's

"Table Top Dancer" is a sympathetic, but unblinking, portrait of its title character. The O'Kane's chestnut "When We're Gone, Long Gone" serves as a poignant closer. A couple of well-chosen covers grace the album, and their sources - Hank Williams and John Hiatt - show where these guys are coming from: taut, honest, emotionally-direct songs without an ounce of fat.

Both newcomers and longtime fans will find something to love in these warm, charming performances. Have a seat on the back porch with these guys, watch the sun set and relax as their songs seep slowly into your bones.

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