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Maryann Fennimore & Daniel Marcus

OPEN DOORS • Crescent & Frost

Brooklyn is full of secrets. One that's bound to get leaked to the press is the acoustic based act Crescent and Frost. There's originality and magnetism here, in abundance.

The source of the magnetism is the alliance between the nymphal beauty Maryann Fennimore and Daniel Marcus, the nucleus of the combo. Although Rich Hinman on electric guitar and the ubiquitous Jason Mercer on upright bass are crucial, it begins with the first two, who handle the songwriting and he who occasionally supports her lilting vocal. Her ethereal quality is grounded in a wiry, worldly emotionality.

Fennimore is the kind of front person that could launch an act. She cuts a figure on stage that is irresistible, in many senses. Sure enough of herself to be unassuming, she is a compelling beauty to hear and behold. We'll include some recent video from a show at NYC's Living Room so you may listen and see for yourself.

The acoustic guitar tracks are very deftly handled by Daniel Marcus; he's a very interesting character with the air of the savant about him. He's an old friend of Lee Alexander, the bassist and partner of Norah Jones. The F&C record to come is being produced by Lee in his home, while Norah is out of town. Unless we miss our bet, that winds that record up in Starbucks.

One element on Open Doors that's different from the live show I saw is the very tasteful Dan Rieser on drums. (Folk and AAA radio alike can be very tricky about drums--sometimes music won't get the same airplay without drums, for instance.) Although he sounds characteristically great on these tracks, I think the magic of this ensemble is better presented with little or no percussion, as it is in the video below. Wouldn't be surprised if the work to come bears that out.

video clip 1
video clip 2

It's the way that the songs are conceived that first separates this record from the folk genre. There's a retro pop quality afoot that has little to do with folk, although there are clear bluegrass influences on a few numbers. The inspired cameos of Bill Keith on banjo are always a pleasure, certainly here. Canadian Brooklynite Ana Egge adds a warm charm on harmony vocals as well.

There's a fresh sound here, we like it a lot. Pick it up now, and you'll be there when they crack it open on the next one.
• Frank Goodman

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