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Jesse Dayton and Brennen Leigh 

Holdin' Our Own and Other Country Gold Duets (Stag)

Keeping it real is always tricky. People who hate "new country" complain that it's not "authentic country." While that may be true, it's no guarantee that every Gram Parsons-influenced, alt-country shit-kicker will be any more genuine. Jesse Dayton and Brennen Leigh's Holdin' Our Own is neither "new country" nor "alt-country"; it's an unspoken, letter-perfect tribute to old-school country duets — the kind George Jones/Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton/Porter Wagoner used to sing. Dayton is a neo-honky-tonk journeyman with a handful of solo albums to his name, who knows the genre inside and out. Relative newbie Leigh is a perfect match. Originals like "Somethin' Somebody Said" and the terrific title tune blend seamlessly with the likes of Jones' "Take Me" and other songs that were written decades ago. Holdin' Our Own sounds so real, it's almost too good to be true: No one makes music like this anymore. Then again, that's what makes it such a fun listen, authenticity be damned.

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