Hank Payne and Claire Favro are a couple of fine singers and tasteful guitar finger-pickers who teamed up in 2009. At the end of 2010 they released a truly lovely CD they call “Heart of the Matter.” The album includes songs by John Prine (Long Monday), Chuck Pyle (Slow Time Kid and Step by Step), Michael P. Smith (The Dutchman – one of the best arrangements I’ve heard yet of this sweet depiction of long-lasting love).
Other songs are Bill Gallaher’s The Good Guys Wore White Hats (a trip back to a more innocent if not necessarily simpler time), Tom Paxton, Berryman & Berryman, and others, plus four of Hank’s well-crafted songs: Blue Water, The Mountains and the Music, Shade Tree Mechanic, and Waiting for Me.
The covered songs are well-presented, the harmonies and guitar work are perfectly balanced; but for me the greatest treat was hearing the songs from Hank’s own pen! He’s not a well-known songwriter, but he deserves to be heard and heard widely.
His rich baritone voice blends beautifully with Claire’s high alto/low soprano range. Laurie Riley guests with banjo and vocal harmony on a couple of tracks and Matt Sircely sits in on mandolin on another pair of songs.
I love this album, and I am already eager to hear them record again -- preferably with even more of Hank's songs. If you enjoy sweet harmonies, a bit of sentiment, some fun, some nostalgia, and a big dose of heart, you'll enjoy "Heart of the Matter."