I’m a huge fan of country duos, and Retreat are no exception. Having started writing together four years ago, Rich and Marianne decided to take the next step and started singing together two years ago. Now, in 2017, they have decided to release their debut EP ‘No Need for Conversation’. It seems to reflect their journey together so far, growing in confidence, writing ability and musical identity. Of the five tracks on offer here, “I Thought You Knew” definitely feels like the weakest link. Perhaps it’s no surprise considering that this was the first song they ever wrote together. Compared with the other songs on the album, this track feels like it is of a different era. There is no sense of it belonging. It is a sound which feels borrowed rather than carved out by their own identity. Meanwhile, “The Way God Made You” and “Pack of Lies” seem to reflect the real Retreat sound. Here, they come into their own. On the former especially, their voices interlock to create a beautifully harmonious sound. It reminds me of the best of The Shires: an intimate expression of love between two vulnerable bodies (and the celebration of natural beauty in this case). Opening tracks “Hanging on a Red Light” and “In my Hands” feel like stepping stones to this point. There isn’t quite the identity of Retreat in these songs, but there is certainly nothing wrong with them either. “Hanging on a Red Light” is a lovely country/pop sound. “In my Hands” is a smooth, laid-back lovesong that allows Rich and Marianne to introduce their individual vocal talents. It is hard not to compare the gravelly tones of the former to that of Bryan Adams. Overall, ‘No Need for Conversation’ is a great introduction to this UK country duo. It feels like a significant marker in their journey. As they continue to grow in confidence and develop their own identity, I have no doubt their next offering will be even better than this promising start.
Featured Image (C) Retreat