Mark Courtney & Lauren Michaels – Desert Blend: Songs From Our Heart (Independent)
Mark Courtney and Lauren Michaels are a recent pairing and “Desert Blend: Songs From Our Heart” is their debut release, a six-track EP of love songs, with a streak of melancholy at its heart. That they commence the collection with “That Lonesome Look of Sadness” is a clear indication of things to come, certainly for the first half of the collection, though neither the song in question nor the material that follows can in any way be described as maudlin. It’s a song written and sung by Courtney, and the easiest point of reference would be the broke-down storytelling of Townes van Zandt, which should always be encouraged.
On the second track “Sugar”, composed and sung by Michaels, a tale is told of betrayal and despair, and together with the aforementioned opening track and the marginally less intense “All of My Jeans”, the three songs are referred to as their “heartbreak trilogy”.
On the remaining tracks, things are a little more upbeat and positive. “Heart to Heart” is a salutation to love in its simplest form, and Courtney’s “You Seemed So Young to Me” is an old style country ballad, and quite affecting. They conclude with “Love Never Changes”, a celebration of the durability of love, and with the duo singing in harmony, it’s a fitting way to close proceedings.