Folk-pop duo Kris + Dee shows this weekend in Fredericton, Moncton

Kris + Dee can do it all. No, seriously, they can do it all, just the two of them. They play together on the road as a duo, and their brand-new album, A Great Long Game, features just the two of them. And we're not talking a couple of acoustic guitars here, this is a full-band, folk-pop effort, which they also produced and engineered. It's a set of skills that they believe will keep them in the music creation business for a long time.

"Making this all by ourselves really is important to us," says Kris Abbott. "It's been a growing concept for what we do. We're a couple, we met through music, married 10 years ago, and music is a huge part of the conversation between the two of us. This time we decided we'd do it all ourselves, and even produce the record together."

"It was definitely a goal," confirms Dee McNeil. "The sustainability part was too. We are independent, and to be able to do a record from top to bottom was really important for our future, to keep us sustainable in this music industry. It was so great to realize we can do everything now."

Both Abbott and McNeil are used to being in the band scene. Kris Abbott joined indie-rock faves The Pursuit of Happiness back in 1988, and played through until the last incarnation of the band went on a reunion tour back in 2005. That was around the same time she brought her Les Paul to McNeil's Toronto punkish, all-female The Strap-Ons. As Kris + Dee, they made two previous albums using a variety of musicians and techs, but slowly learned the secrets of self-contained production.

For two people, they make a full sound on A Great Long Game, yet it doesn't sound full of over-dubs or cluttered with multiple layers. "The way that it worked was to incorporate flexibility and spontaneity in the recording," explains Abbott. "Kris + Dee are basically folk pop, but we have roots in rock, punk, so whatever came up we were ready to add it."

"When we first started to write together, we didn't know what we'd get," continues McNeil. "So we sat down with acoustics to write, and that's what came out, the folk pop sound. But the rest comes out too, sometimes. In my old band I played bass and then drums, so it's great to get back to that making the music too, and Kris gets to bring out her Les Paul."

The independence continued with the move out of Toronto to the relative calm of college town Kingston, Ontario, where McNeil is a prof. There's family there as well, including the inspiration for the catchy tune Cold Chisel. "I have a nephew across the street who's a stone carver," McNeil explains. "I walked over and he was chipping away, and I asked him what that tool was, and he said, 'oh it's just a cold chisel.' I love a metaphor, and the personification of an inanimate object. Everything in our music stems from something in our lives, there's a very strong element of the personal."

Plus, they have a killer weapon for live shows. Their vocal blend is a special one, one of those meant-to-be harmony partnerships. Once again, just the two of them. "There's a theme on this album, a philosophy of life, to simplify things," says Abbott. "There's something about that in all the songs, and in the goal to make it just the two of us."

Here's a simple suggestion: Go see Kris + Dee Friday, June 26 at the Grimross Brewing Company in Fredericton, or Saturday at Plan B in Moncton.

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About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

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