“Sounds like: ORIGINAL,” screams their MySpace page, so, let’s get the flattering comparisons to Ian and Sylvia, the descriptions of throaty Neko Case-like vocals out of the way. Twilight Hotel does not want to fall under another artist’s shadow. Done.
Wait. Does a movie comparison count? Anybody who has seen the 2007 film Once enjoyed the haunting duets of singer/songwriters-turned-actors Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova should warm to this disc almost automatically. Consider this: Brandy Zdan and Dave Quandbury are the duo behind Twilight Hotel and their recent release, Highway Prayer. They are a Winnipeg couple whose sound flirts with country twangs and errs on the side of folk. When these two perform duets (from the slowest of slow songs, “Sand in your Eyes,” to the folksy “Ballad of Salvador and Isabelle”), your skin will crawl with pleasure, guaranteed. Full of soul and emotion, the members of Twilight Hotel belt out lyrics like they mean it. (Not to mention, Quandbury is bearded, fair-haired and sings the softest of songs with strength, uncannily like Hansard in Once). When Zdan lazily murmurs “cigarette smoke has stained the walls from years gone by,” it has the depth of aged whiskey and pulses with sexiness and tension. To top it all off, they are in love—in real life, that is. And if you don’t think it’s possible to hear that in a song, flip to track 12 of Highway Prayer.