Details matter, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, and if you needed a pop duo to remind you as much this spring season, Bettman & Halpin are here to answer the call. In their new album, the illuminating Timeless, Bettman & Halpin are putting intricacies into even the simplest of tracks, such as the Americana standards “Moon River,” “All of Me,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” in addition to three original songs, and while you could make a case that they’re taking things a little further than they have to in terms of meticulousness, that could be the best element of this record’s appeal.
The lead vocal matches up with the depth of the strings excellently in songs like “Miss Otis Regrets” and the somewhat elaborate “Cry Me a River,” and I would even say that had this singer not incorporated the delicate touch she does for the better part of this tracklist, the material wouldn’t sound as accessible as it does in this scenario. It’s clear that both Bettman & Halpin take harmonies a little more seriously than most, and despite their ultra-focused technique they never sound like they’re getting hung up on formula more than they are a fluid song structure.
Timeless features plenty of provocative beats, particularly in “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” “Accentuate the Positive,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” and the rollicking “Nature Boy.” The grooves in these tracks are never implied but instead made from a collective force that doesn’t always include the presence of drums, which is telling of the physicality that Bettman & Halpin can muster up when they need to. The punch of the string play is enough to get us to where we need to be in any given verse, so why dilute the finished product with a lot of excesses we don’t need?
Beyond the instrumentation and the execution this vocalist is providing us in every performance where she takes the mic in her hands, the master mix is pretty well balanced and doesn’t Bogart the spotlight for any one specific element over another, which is always a positive in my book. There are occasions in which the lion’s share of the charisma is coming off of the chemistry as opposed to the glow of the play, but this doesn’t water down the narrative of any songs or the album as a complete piece at all – the opposite if you ask me.
If you weren’t already a fan of Bettman & Halpin before sitting down to hear what they can do in this latest record, something tells me that the music of Timeless will have you considering their skillset a lot more in the future. This is a good time to be into Americana, and before I came across this act, I was starting to think hybrid players were the only ones taking up the aesthetical mantle. These two prove otherwise and offer as pure a listen in Timeless as I could hope to get my hands on right now.