As the vocals began on “Shadows Through A Canyon,” the A-side to Nashville duo Fort Defiance’s new 7” release, I had to check and make sure my speed was correct. Singer Laurel Lane’s vocals are so unbelievably high I thought the “45rpm” packaging must be an error. After a minute to adjust, though, I realized what was happening; the dynamic of Laurel’s higher pitched melody to husband Jordan’s much deeper harmony creates a jarring contrast, capturing a mood of longing and perseverance. Using Laurel to start the song grabs your attention, in turn causing you to pay attention to what’s being said. On the second verse, Jordan takes over, giving the song a conversational tone, adding in a more rounded band sound that gives it strength. It’s a lovely song, effectively capturing the delicate Laurel Canyon sound of the 1970s.
The B-side is a folky tune called “Warzone Serenade” about a soldier (maybe) contemplating life after the pin leaves a grenade. This one features Jordan on vocals with harmonies from Laurel during the chorus. It’s sparse, with only an acoustic guitar and harmonica to accompany the singing, but judging by the tone of the lyrics, it fits the mood. I’m reminded of Neil Young in the late ’60s and early ’70s, which is another nod back to the Laurel Canyon sound.
The vinyl reviewed is “cool mint white,” which looks to be solid white with a few streaks of greenish blue and yellow, here and there. Sound wise it’s solid, with very little surface noise present and plenty of range. The 7” was released by Cincinnati label Soul Step Records, and is still available for sale on a second variant of black vinyl.