There’s some intriguing beauty in folk duos if a solo act can offer a breathtaking emotional vision of life through voice and guitar and a full band can project a spectrum of colorful emotions and feelings, a complex pallet of greys or spring and summer tones when it comes to a duo it becomes a mystery: it’s all down to two individual souls, two expressions and perspectives cooperating together. It’s a ballet. A beautiful dance. There’s where we can find Beta Radio.
The duo from Wilmington, North Carolina, formed by Ben Mabry and Brent Holloman, debuted in 2010 with Seven Sisters, the 11-piece album was released on the first day of the year and new decade, a decade that brought great achievements to them. After 3 original LP, a Christmas album, and a handful of B-sides, acoustic versions, and other singles, a new decade starts with a forthcoming EP Afraid Of Love. The new studio work follows Way Of Love, released in the second half of 2020, in a clear sequel as the titles suggest. In Way Of Love the arrangements and melodies found in their strings and horns, which count with the collaboration of The National’s Bryan Devendorf on drums and Bon Iver’s CJ Camerieri (a.k.a. CARM) on horns on the title track, transmit a buoyant state of mind, whereas the second one executes a more complex combination of moments but as vivid in harmonies and lyrics that so graciously identify Beta Radio.
The 4-piece EP, lyrically, is a construction of a relationship based -obviously- on love, opening with There’s Something I Want to Say, an instrumental track that features uplifting and kind of mysterious sonorities, once again brought by exquisite strings almost orchestral, followed by Afraid Of Love, the title song that borrows another Bon Iver member, this time the string arranger Rob Moose. The song is an intense experience encapsulated by a powerful short film. The duo tried to run away from writing about love “It’s done so much, (we’ve done it so much), and I was tired of it.” says Mabry, but the pandemic scenario and the lack of justice around the world made them realize that love was all that left to write about. Don’t Leave Me Behind and Hope You Change Your Mind close the EP leaving some hope in the air and in our ears. The upbeat fingerpicking and drums contrasting with the elegant harmonies become the bottle of air we all need to cross this tumultuous road.