This subtle, sublime collaboration finds bassist Charlie Haden and guitarist Pat Metheny crafting bejewelled chamber duets that transcend genre. With their shared Missouri lineage as a thematic touchstone, Haden and Metheny forge a lyrical, mostly acoustic style at once intimate and expansive. Both pare their playing to a Zen-like economy, focusing on a purity of tone, clarity of harmony, and counterpoint to achieve a tender lyricism.
Metheny's acoustic steel-string and classical guitars predominate, but he also applies discreet overdubs (including some delicate synthesizer and keyboard textures) to sculpt orchestral detail. Haden, as always, is both a generous foil and a deft melodist on his own, moving easily into his instrument's upper register as he twines through Metheny's lines. The set's emotional coherence is particularly satisfying in light of the material, which spans Ennio Morricone ("Cinema Paradiso"), Henry Mancini ("Two for the Road"), Jim Webb ("The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"), and Roy Acuff ("The Precious Jewel") as well as affecting originals by both leaders. And giving the project a sense of closure, while commenting obliquely on the generational dialogue it represents, is the luminous "Spiritual" (composed by Haden's son, Josh), an instrumental prayer that exemplifies the balance of concision and deep emotion at the heart of this exquisite triumph. --Sam Sutherland