The last time Gabriel Minnikin graced the (web) pages of Grayowl Point, he was a Canadian expat in Manchester making a run at things on his own after founding The Guthries. These days he’s back home in Halifax and still playing, but he’s no longer solo.
Flower Country is the debut album of his collaboration with fellow Haligonian Cassie Josephine. The pair met while Minnikin was visiting following the release of Parakeets With Parasols, and while the duo now share a house they’re making sure they keep part of their lives separate—in this case, a joint, split album that sees them each take a half.
It’s an interesting combo as Josephine’s songwriting on “Side A” veers close to modern indie folk before Minnikin’s twang-filled country fills “Side B.” But its’ how unnoticeable that transition is that shows how easily the pair flow into each other’s sound while holding onto their own.
Josephine is a whimsy queen on “Forever,” but creeping into her falsetto is just a hint of the southern accent Minnikin does so well. Even the guitar notes chiming along prepare you for the second half as they dance along with Josephine’s charming voice.
Slow “I don’t want to go anywhere” finds romance in simplicity as Josephine pours herself into the lyrics and Minnikin is briefly, barely audible as he seconds her sentiment. There’s more of this satisfying mix in the dreamy “August Man,” as it knowingly sings, “It’s not a dream anymore…” and quirkiness is left behind for a thoroughly moving lead in to Josephine’s crooning finale.
And then a striking chord signals a shift—but before the transition becomes too abrupt the pair are back on the mic together as notes trill out as their voices fill out the strides left in the album’s new pace. Even as Minnikin’s deep, captivating voice breaks suddenly from Josephine’s ethereal notes, the way he eases up at the end of the verses on “St. Genevieve” lets it blend, yet again, with Flower Country’s softer notes.
Minnikin’s extensive country roots do eventually take over on “Good Listener,” his own turn at a solo ballad that evokes the pair’s dancing album cover—two sides of an album stepping towards each other and apart before coming together again. It’s an apt visual.
Top Tracks: “I don’t want to go anywhere”; “Good Listener”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)