Duo of decidedly non-divas deliver their drop-dead droll debut and get away with its pop-country charms.
The capital of Tennessee must be teeming with talented youngsters, yet not taking oneself seriously requires much more strengths than simple musical skills, which is why Raelyn Nelson and Hannah Fairlight stand out from the crowd without whipping up their USP. The former may be Willie’s granddaughter and the latter an actress who appeared in “Pitch Perfect 3” but it doesn’t matter in the context of “mmhmm” where typical Nashville emotions take a back seat to the girls’ natural nous and unrestrained desire to have fun no matter what – that’s what the perky “Aw Hell” will refer to. There’s no time for heartbreak on this album which is augmented with snippets of banter, even though the intro to opener “Let’s Get Together” – the duo’s wildly befitting cover of an old Disney tune – is definitely staged to highlight the sweet blend of the ladies’ vocals, and when the heavy metal riffs of “So Hard To Say Goodbye” bring the record to a close, smiles all around are guaranteed.
Still, the songstresses’ proclivity for slight provocation already resulted in problems and their having to apologize to LGBT community for turning “Lookin’ Like A Tranny Blues” into a harmonica-oiled rockabilly joke, while the bossa nova undertow of “Up In Smoke (Don’t It Have To Wait)” makes the little ensemble’s toil a much more serious matter than Hannah and Raelyn’s countenance should suggest, and mining of social agenda in “Mama’s Little Yella Pils” reveals a real depth of their oeuvre. There’s traditional tropes seeping in “Blue Eyes” before the ache is swept away by psychedelic wave, and, of course, such a platter wouldn’t do without the affairs-of-the-heart sort of ballad, albeit “Coy Boy” is delicate and ironic in equal measure, and the girls’ rendition of “Take It On The Run” had carved a playful ditty out of the AOR classic. With most of the pieces as infectious as “3am And Sake” is, “mmhmm” can become a favorite for those who got tired of highbrow country and want to let their hair down. It’s that nice.