Rare Feeling marks the label debut of Twain, a project led by former the Low Anthem and Spirit Family Reunion multi-instrumentalist Mat Davidson, who’s persevered with Twain as a passion project since the mid-2000s. Having a breakthrough year of sorts in 2017, he not only scored a record deal with Austin-based Keeled Scales, but found himself on tour with the likes of Big Thief, Langhorne Slim, and the Deslondes.
Combining a distinctively brittle, blues-imbued vocal delivery with sweet melodies and a poetically homespun way with words, Davidson is a singer who, enjoy him or not, makes a lasting impression. He’s joined on the album by bassist Ken Woodward and drummer Peter Pezzimenti, prior collaborators who are credited here as bandmates.
Also an expressive guitarist, Davidson opens the album with a delicate electric guitar lullaby to the lonely, “Solar Pilgrim.” Spare drums, bass, and strings join in later as Davidson imagines the day he’ll die: “But till then, I’m still healthy/Sitting in the morning sun/And no one around to sit down next to me.” Elsewhere, “Hank + Georgia” explores more unconventional harmonic progressions, while the quirky cowboy country of “Little Dog Mind” has a lusher arrangement, adding slide guitar, ornamental keys, group backing vocals, lively drums, country bass, and polyrhythms to the opening acoustic rhythm guitar. The song captures a one-sided conversation between Davidson’s own heart and mind (“You’re just like a little dog/Running away from me”).
Throughout, the album surprises with lyrics, performances, and musical developments without sacrificing its melodious throughline. Officially Twain’s sixth LP, it delivers on the promise of prior releases and with any luck will result in some reissues.