Melbourne country duo Small Town Romance is ready to unleash its debut self-titled album, a collection of songs Jim Arneman and Flora Smith call a love letter to country music.

I really love that description, because this album is one that celebrates the traditions of country music like few do today. Its songs have a great Western feel, with slide guitars and harmonicas used to awesome effect.

Jim and Flora have been making music together since 2013, and that experience shows. They’re equally capable taking on a beautiful ballad like “Halfway Up the Hume” as they are a honky-tonky number like “Old Letter.” “New Things,” which gives a playful but earnest take on encouraging a love interest to move on, is another highlight for me.

Individually both Jim and Flora’s voices shine, but when they harmonise, wow. The combination of their tones is really special, ensuring a song like “Rookie” is another album stand-out. It reminds me of what we used to hear in country music, from the likes of Johnny Cash and June Carter, or Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn.

When so much country music is being watered down, fused with rock or pop to help it cross over to a more mainstream audience, it’s refreshing to hear Small Town Romance’s music which faithfully pays tribute to the roots of the genre. Their debut album is a stellar collection of songs which shows this duo has a big future ahead.

Small Town Romance’s self-titled debut album hits stores on October 14. The duo will launch it with a gig for hometown fans at Bella Union in Carlton on October 21.

Image used with permission from Shows in Space