MARLON Williams has a knack for sourcing incredible female voices.
Before anyone outside of their New Zealand South Island hometown of Lyttelton had heard of Aldous Harding, Williams was sharing the stage with his ex-girlfriend. Thanks to Harding's stunning albums Party (2017) and Designer (2019) the now Wales-based artist has arguably scaled greater heights than her former beau.
Williams has discovered another classic female voice in Canadian artist Kacy Anderson, who performs with her second cousin and guitarist, Clayton Linthicum, in the folk duo Kacy & Clayton.
The story goes Williams heard Kacy & Clayton on the radio while touring in 2018 and obsessively set about tracking them down. Eventually Williams travelled from Christchurch to wintery Saskatoon, to write and record an album with the cousins.
While both acts shared mutual respect, there was no knowing if they would gel creatively. Plastic Bouquet is undeniable proof they did.
Plastic Bouquet is a peculiar title for the album, because the 11 tracks boast anything but a synthetic quality. It's a warm and nostalgic embrace of folk and alt-country, like the equivalent of mum's hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.
Williams allows Anderson's sweet and melancholic vocal to dominate on the opener Isn't It and Your Mind's Walking Out, as he merely serves to harmonise the melody.
On Light Of Love Linthicum provides a trebly '60s guitar riff while Williams' croon and Anderson's falsetto compete in a blissful duel.
Williams takes the lead on the aching Arahura - an ode to the river on the west coast of the New Zealand's South Island - and again Linthicum's nuanced guitar playing offers the perfect accompaniment without detracting from the vocal.
I Wonder Why takes inspiration from George Harrison's Behind That Locked Door, while the country-folk duet of Old Fashioned Man addresses the unintended awkwardness at the heart of gender relations.
After the year we've experienced, Williams' debut collaboration with Kacy & Clayton is ideal comfort listening. Rich, smooth and nostalgic.