Kurt Wagner and Cortney Tidwell present KORT Kurt Wagner and Cortney Tidwell present KORTInvariable Heartache
The promising career of Cortney Tidwell can be summarised so far in a beautiful choreography on a squeaking wooden stage, a series of steps made on her toes and with the nail of her big toe, arched but firm, in search of atmospheric beauty –which we heard on her (at times) gothic country record “Boys” (2009). Before the choreography she had introduced herself as a singer-songwriter from Nashville alongside her special companion and countryman Kurt Wagner ( Lambchop). Tidwell had taken two or three indecisive steps, in debt with her origins, submerged completely in country –she’s the daughter of country singer Connie Eaton and producer and talent scout Cliff Williamson, and the granddaughter of Slim Williamson, founder of the Chart Records label–, so there were quite a few eyes on her. And after that debut “Cortney Tidwell” (2006), driven by the single “Don't Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled Up”, and the aforementioned –and evolutionary– “Boys”, it turns out the girl gives a new twist to her choreography with a lateral displacement and an old friend, Wagner, joining the party. Now, both start a dance in a very lounge style under the moniker KORT: with lights dim and reddish, like in all the good bars, they become besotted with each other. Leaving behind –but only just–, Beth Gibbons, Holly Miranda and Mazzy Star, they have hung a sepia-coloured painting of Faron Young in the living room and they want to make us believe she’s a mysterious and flirty dame. Which won’t work. But it is attractive.
For starters, someone should give historical credibility to the term / genre “new age country” (check “Incredibly Lonely”), or make us believe that it’s possible to be born in Nashville and be a crooner (on “Yours Forever”, Tidwell gives us a full speech, showing off her vocal magnetism in a, yes, crooner-girl ballad). In other words, The intention is not to blunder like the intrusive Karen Elson, but to give the whole thing an ethereal touch without it becoming mystical and sectarian. And so, in spite of the basic exercises in calligraphy (visible in the stellar duet for neophytes in the genre, “She Came Around Last Night”), the flirtations continue without shame in “A Special Day” (with Tidwell’s sweet voice playing the role of nocturnal partner in a romantic production) and in the mysterious “Eyes Look Away” (with guitar arpeggios falling like curtains, forming a semitransparent and soothing veil). It’s true that sometimes they fail – fail as in: lack of spirit and personality, as on the accelerated soft-country tune “Picking Wild Mountain Berries”. Question: don’t these voices remind you of, oh, blasphemy, Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes?), but on some occasions the mix of post-rock and soul stuck to the Wagner-Lambchop skin like leeches goes perfectly with Tidwell’s dream-country ( “Penetration” leaves country to the side to enter dream-pop ambient and then change the rhythm to 2/4 in the second part that’s so good, it leaves you wanting more) And where’s Faron Young? Young and company appear mainly on “Let’s Think About Where We’re Going” and on “He’s Only A Memory Away” (porch guitars complementing the only track that refers to real country, piano and pleasant tristesse included).
After all this, do we really need a conclusion? Okay, here goes: the promising singer-songwriter Cortney Tidwell emptied herself over the dream-pop-with-a-touch-of-electronica fire and threw herself in the arms of Kurt Wagner to go back and dance a melody that they seem to have learned as kids on the streets of their native city. Now it’s a question of deciding if the choreography they’re dancing is a private dance or a universal demonstration of shared intimacy. Jordi Guinart