Bethany Yarrow and Rufus Cappadocia manage to get quite a bit out of not much at all. Their spare collaboration on 900 Miles references a wide swath of folk and jazz, but the nocturnal smokiness of Yarrow’s haunted alto and Cappadocia’s cello combine for a sound that’s slightly outside of the usual music universe.
There’s some Cowboy Junkies here, a dash of Tuck & Patti there and an overall otherworldliness more akin to a David Lynch movie. Yarrow doesn’t just vamp for the whole record though; her range careens from hushed to strident, and she even does a pretty fair PJ Harvey wail (circa 4-Track Demos) on “Linin’ Track,” and “Isn’t That So?” Meanwhile, Cappadocia often puts down his bow, extracting some funk out of “If I Had My Way,” or leading off “East Virginia” with a little Latin guitar flavor. But the heart of the record is in the ballads, as the duo stretches out with long, dark adagio passages filled with dust and desire. Bethany & Rufus successfully transcend their limited instrumentation, coming up with a debut that gets better and better with each listen. –Matthew Cooke