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Eric Brace & Peter Cooper: ‘You Don’t Have to Like Them Both’ (Red Beat Records)

Most Mix readers don’t have the inside info that we editors get about new music, so here’s a little bit of writing from the press releases that arrived with this album of Americana-type duets from Last Train Home front man Eric Brace and the multitalented recording artist/Mix Nashville editor Peter Cooper. Among other things, Cooper writes: “I was talking with neighbor Todd Snider one day about how fun it’d be to score some hit-song jackpot, and he said, ‘Yeah, then we’d be able to just sit on the porch, watch baseball and pick.’ At the time, we were sitting on the porch, watching baseball and picking.” I share this, not just because it’s so amusing, but also because it seems to me to embody the personality of this album: warm, unassuming, funny, relaxed—exactly what it should be without having any ego about it.

Brace and Cooper chose a dozen favorite songs beautifully suited to their voices and their front-porch approach—a few of their own and others by Snider, Paul Kennerley, Kris Kristofferson, Jim Lauderdale and other country-folk singer/songwriters. They gathered a group of musical friends, including drummer Paul Griffith, bass player Dave Roe, pedal steel player Lloyd Green, keyboardist Jen Gunderman and another handful of guest players to help realize this really beautiful, enjoyable album that displays a lot more heart and talent than you’ll hear most times you turn on the country radio. Listen, and you’ll know I’m not just saying this because Cooper writes an awesome “Nashville Skyline” column every month.

Must Play: “Lucky Bones”

Producers: Brace and Cooper. Recording engineer/studio: Mike Esser/16 Ton (Nashville). Mix engineer/studio: Richard McLaurin/House of David (Nashville). Mastering: Alex McCollough/Yes Master (Nashville).

—Barbara Schultz