It’s a combination that can’t really go wrong—two good friends decide to collaborate on a new album while tooling around San Francisco in the summer of 2010 for two weeks resulting in happiness with minor undertones and lots of knee slaps. This is what happened when Thao Nguyen of the Get Down Stay Down fame and Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn got together to create their debut album, Thao And Mirah. This is what happens when good friends make good music.
The duo’s debut is folk indie-rock with a DIY element. Thao and Mirah provide more than vocals to the album, as they contribute most of the instrumentation, from drums to slide guitar and knee slaps. It all kicks off with “Eleven,” a high-energy tune that sounds as though household items were used in unconventional ways to create the accompaniment. Though that’s interesting enough, it’s the vocal harmonies that really shine on this track. Each line could stand on its own, but together they create an unconventional harmony with an octave of separation.
Thao and Mirah’s vocals complement each other—Thao’s being lower and more rounded and Mirah’s more delicate and sweet. It’s a contrast you can find in the instrumentation too where synths and acoustics collide though not on every track. “Folks” is appropriately acoustic giving the track a sound that fits the title. On “Rubies And Rocks,” we’re treated to a horn section—that may or may not be the actual instruments—which takes you by surprise after an intro of simply drum and bass. This changing of the tide between electric and acoustic makes the album flow.
What’s evident on Thao And Mirah is the musicality of the duo and the friendship at hand. Even when a song is in a minor key there’s a playful slide guitar to show the two’s quirkiness. It’s hard not to imagine them giggling together between every take.