Few bands spring to life with a fully developed personality, but Twinemen have a leg up on the game. Drummer Billy Conway and saxist Dana Colley (who also play some guitar and piano here) developed their collaborative vocabulary in Morphine. And they’re joined by vocalist Laurie Sargent, Conway’s partner and a long-time friend of the Morphine crew. She’s an elegant singer whose bold command and wide range of vocal tones allows her to use her voice as a textural instrument, playing to the emotions — often brooding — of each tune.
The darkness is frequently an allusion to life’s complexities. So though the lyrics to "Little by Little" extol the virtues of falling in love, its music becomes a murky undertow, playing sonic stand-in for love’s uncertainties. "Golden Hour," sung by Colley in a soft, near-baritone, seems to commemorate the late Morphine leader Mark Sandman, from whom the band got not only their name but also their graceful way with gentle melodies, slow-paced rhythms, and sweet, warm, low tones. But there’s plenty of roar, too, from Colley’s grainy sax in the obsessive "Ronnie Johnson" to the psychedelics of "Signs of Life." What’s most striking is the comfortable mesh of it all. At times the band, augmented by additional guitarists, bass, keyboards, horns, and organs, are a sprawling machine. Yet they’re always smooth-running, creating an easy path into the songs — and a tricky one.
(Twinemen play a CD-release party this Friday, July 12, at the Middle East. Call 617-491-EAST.)