"Really strong, unsentimental songwriting (mostly by Libby Hortop) that is very refreshing; sometimes surprising, sometimes funny and on this album, engaged in exploring alternate ways of conducting relationships. Great singing and imaginative harmonising that is always compelling in its own right. And is there any other duo in this world that uses autoharp and 12 string guitar? I think not. Libby and Cal unswervingly do their own thing and it is great."
- James Stephens, musician, producer, and recording engineer
“If You've Given up on Love, then Let's Call it Something Else” is a collection of songs about alternative love. In response to popular lyrics about self-sacrifice and unrealistic devotion, this album proposes something different: a step off the relationship escalator. There are many roads to Happy Ever After, and marriage is only one possibility.
“If You’ve Given Up on Love…” was recorded by James Stephens, who has worked with many talented musicians, such as Lynn Miles, Ian Tamblyn, and Kate Weekes. He also contributed string arrangements for several songs. Other musicians on the album include Jay Williams on bass, James Clugston on drums, Stephen Fuller on organ, and Mea the Creative Cellist.
"We don't usually think of a 12 string guitar and autoharp as being natural pals, but the combined solo and harmony voices with these not usually paired instruments is effective and even haunting... It is interesting material, vocally, compositionally, and instrumentally." - Nan Bovingdon
"These lyrics slay me and the harmonies make it a pretty kind of slaying."
- rorie kelly
"Our Lady of Perpetual Hammer" is a new collection of folk music written in 2020. The title is both a tongue-in-cheek reference to the creative titles given to the Virgin Mary in popular Catholicism, and a reference to Tomas Pueyo's 2020 Article, "The Hammer and the Dance." According to Pueyo, the first step to quashing COVID-19 is to smack it down hard with a blunt object. Later we can start to loosen restrictions, carefully adjusting a few variables at a time, in a sort of dance. The first step can feel interminable, especially when we are living through it, attempting to maintain our mental health. It can feel as though our freedoms are perpetually being hammered down, even if we know it's for the greater good. From the song, "Ceremony of Deconsecration" :
The ceremony's almost complete,
Banishing Our Lady of Perpetual Hammer,
I call upon the Lord of the Dance,
We gotta learn to move forward, move onward!