Kindred spirits: Dean & Britta, Wye Oak
Show: With Nick Diamonds on Friday at the 9:30 Club. Doors open at 8 p.m. 202-265-0930. www.930.com. $25.
Any collaboration between two established musicians runs the risk of hovering just outside the wheelhouse of both artists, leaving fans unsatisfied in the end. But every now and then, a partnership comes along that serves up the best of each. Case in point: indie songstress Aimee Mann and rocker Ted Leo’s new project, the Both.
In their self-titled debut album, Mann and Leo display a shared vocabulary and a dynamic sound with plenty of room for both to feel totally at home. Mann’s acoustic sensibilities soften such rock anthems as “The Gambler” and “Milwaukee,” and Leo’s hard-driving guitar stirs more melancholy tracks, such as “No Sir” and “You Can’t Help Me Now,” into a thick frenzy. Mann and Leo take full advantage of their particularly compatible voices, sharing vocal duties equally and adding lush and, at times, subtly unpredictable harmonies to every track.
As we have come to expect from both Mann and Leo, the songwriting here is fresh and original yet markedly accessible. And although the two complement each other, each one also puts the talents of the other into starker relief. Their album is a resounding reminder that good music is always sweeter when played in good company.