Review: Janel & Anthony’s Where is Home

Janel & Anthony: Where is Home

Janel & Anthony: Where is Home (Cuneiform, 5/22/12)

“Big Sur”

[audio:|titles=Janel & Anthony: “Big Sur”]

A dynamic DC duo versed in the East, the West, and the rest, Janel & Anthony is cellist Janel Leppin and guitarist Anthony Pirog. Together, they’ve studied and performed everything from surf rock to jazz, modern classical, and Hindustani ragas, and those assorted influences mesh into one beautiful, indecipherable whole on Where is Home, their second full-length album.

Though it’s one of the most engaging songs on the album, “Big Sur” opens as an unintentional red herring. It’s a jazzy, Indian-influenced number — a Mahavishnu Orchestra-esque piece that brims with virtuosity and grooves, with licks courtesy of electric sitar and 12-string guitar.

But for nearly the rest of its duration, Where is Home is much more delicate, somber, and easygoing. A lack of percussion is a distinct factor in that direction, but between its elongated melodies and slowly building structures, Where is Home is hypnotic and, at times, almost ambient.

And though cello and guitar are the album’s primary drivers, it also benefits from a wealth of textures. “A Viennesian Life” is one of the most lush songs on the album, weaving together a gentle motif with a quilt of timbres: harpsichord, lap-steel guitar, lap harp, mandolin, Mellotron, and more. Elsewhere, baritone guitar gives a tiny Twin Peaks touch, and loops are utilized on nearly every track.

If you’re drawn in by “Big Sur,” Where is Home might not be what you expect — but it should exceed your expectations nonetheless.

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