One smoky and gentle, the other sharper but just as emotionally powerful, the vocals that Jenson David and Kelly Miller collectively contribute to the new single “Not Forgotten” are something to behold in their own right, but when brought together in the beautifully melodic ballad presented to us here, they make for one of the most affectionate and intriguing country harmonies of the fall season. David and Miller seem like a match made in heaven in this collaboration, and while it’s recorded primarily under the former’s moniker, the latter is definitely just as credible in his performance. There’s a lot of good country music hitting record store shelves this season, but for my money this is absolutely among the very best duets on either side of the dial. 

David takes a very tempered approach to the lyrics here that Miller contrasts with something more clandestine and understatedly subtle, but the commonality between these two singers has a lot less to do with aesthetical foundations and most everything to do with tempo and urgency. As much as it feels like they’re on a mission to get a message of compassion and brotherhood unto us, there’s no rushing in their execution and thus no ramshackle feel to the harmonies that unfurl from the silence ever so slowly. It took patience to construct this the right way, but luckily for us, these are two musicians who know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to composing, arranging and producing a premium country tune. 

I love how balanced the master mix is here, and while it’s true that there aren’t a lot of instrumental elements to juggle, there’s still a conflictive tonal difference between the vocals and the piano that had to be carefully adapted to sound good in a stereophonic single. The way this was produced, it feels more like David and Miller are singing to us in an intimate club somewhere rather than from within the four walls of a cramped recording studio somewhere. They don’t have any interest in making a stock country song in “Not Forgotten,” and if this weren’t the case I don’t think they would have gone to such extensive lengths to keep this material sounding as crisp and unadorned with needless fluff as possible. 

It’s true that I’ve always been a picky country fan, but in the year 2020, I think that everyone who loves the music of Americana should be given the diversity the genre has come to embrace in the last decade. Jenson David and Kelly Miller are not the only two collaborators trying to score points with both the mainstream and alternative press and audiences right now, but what makes them stand out is their dedication to ironing out minor details and intricacies others might overlook when crafting an original country ballad. Theirs is a mature sound for sure, and if this ends up being the only song they record together it would be a shame for country fans and those who appreciate the complexities of the genre alike. 

Garth Thomas

The music of Jenson David has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division.  Learn more