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Chemistry is an unpredictable and tricky thing. For example, Fleetwood Mac had labored for years as a respected but ultimately mid-level British blues band. Then they drafted the obscure California duo of Buckingham-Nicks to shake things up and the proverbial lightning struck. Fleetwood Mac suddenly became the biggest band in the world and defined mainstream rock music in the mid-1970s, as five distinct individuals transformed into a much greater whole.
The same mysterious alchemy may possibly be occurring now with the band Early Winters.
British singer-songwriter Carina Round dropped her sophomore album in 2003 to modest acclaim but has never quite managed to make a name for herself. Toronto’s Justin Rutledge is a Juno-nominated artist at home, but outside of Canada any notice he’s received has mostly been as “the Canadian Ryan Adams.” When this pair of hardworking but obscure musicians teamed up with Los Angeles musician/producer Dan Burns and bassist Zac Rae to drum up tv soundtrack work, they found that the chemistry between the four of them was strong enough to make the enterprise a going concern.
Despite the fact that their solo careers required them to be physically present in different parts of the world, they formed Early Winters. Collaborating via Skype, the quartet recorded their eponymous debut EP, from which “Spanish Burn” is taken.
Considering that none of its creators were in the same room when it was created, “Spanish Burn” boasts a remarkably intimate and collaborative ambience as every player seems to always be in the exact right spot at the right time. The song’s easygoing, ornate country-rock vibe definitely recalls Fleetwood Mac in their prime.
Round turns in one of the sweetest and most seductive vocal performances of her career, cooing “I would do anything to be a deleted scene / In a dirty movie only you have seen.” Rutledge’s harmony vocals are understated but perfectly suited for the longing tone of the song. There’s something undeniably “right” about the entire song. Everything feels undeniably “right” about the song.
Like Fleetwood Mac at their peak, there’s something about the lineup of Early Winters that just clicks. Carina Round and Justin Rutledge could (and still might) continue their solo careers for years and turn out fine work with modest success. But “Spanish Burn” demonstrates that as a unit they have that certain indefinable chemistry that many bands would kill to possess, and hopefully it’s only the opening salvo in a long and rewarding partnership.