Talking to me about their new album of eclectic music, Meklit Hadero and Quinn DeVeaux keep using the word "we." As in, "We're lyrics freaks." And, "We love the poetry of songs." They sound like one of those couples that have been together for years -- you know, the kind where each partner finish each other's sentences -- but Hadero and DeVeaux are relative newcomers to each other's lives, and that's what makes their musical collaboration even more impressive.
Released this week, their album -- titled, appropriately enough, Meklit & Quinn -- is a seamless journey through a genre-defying lineup of songs. A smattering of their own tunes are there, but it's mostly reinterpretations of other artists' work, highlighted by Neil Young's "Music Arcade," Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made to Love Her," the Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place," and Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home to Me." Throughout the album, DeVeaux punctuates songs with steady guitar work and a soothing, resonant voice. Hadero offers a voice that's mellifluous and malleable, a sonic gift that's capable of sounding jazzy, bluesy, folk-rocky, and any other style she wants to inhabit. Their singing styles are entirely complementary, with DeVeaux the yin to Hadero's yang.
Based in the Bay Area (DeVeaux in Oakland, Hadero in San Francisco), the singer-songwriters are in the middle of a nationwide tour that stops on Sunday, September 23, at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and Tuesday, September 25, at Yoshi's Oakland.
"When it comes to sensibility, we both really trust each other," Hadero says. "We started the process (of Meklit & Quinn ) by bringing each other songs, and then both of us would go off and make super low-fi garage-band arrangements, where we recorded from microphones on our computers, and we built from there."