By Bob Doerschuk

Keith Burns built his chops through club gigs in his hometown of Atlanta before starting a six-year run on bass with Joe Diffie. He then stepped into the spotlight in 1996 as co-founder of Trick Pony, with whom he recorded and performed all the way to the group’s breakup.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, and raised in Plantation, Fla., Michelle Poe learned the ropes as bassist in the family band, with her father on guitar, her mother on piano and a drum machine providing the beat. After high school graduation, she moved to Nashville and picked up band gigs on bass and harmony vocals with Dierks Bentley, Steve Holy and Hank Williams Jr.

Once introduced, they clicked as writing partners, to the extent that one or both were involved as writers on all but one of the tracks on their debut album. Produced by Burns & Poe and Mark Oliverius, released by Blue Steel Records, Burns & Poe shoots for the stars with a strong single, “Don’t Get No Better Than That.” Within that song, written by Burns and Oliverius, there’s a stomping beat, a chiming guitar riff and a tongue-tripping rap from Burns on the verses and full harmonies, sung over a handclap groove reminiscent of John Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good,” on the choruses. All of it celebrates the exhilaration of rolling the top down, pointing your car down the highway and being free to drive toward whatever lies beyond the horizon for no particular reason at all.

But for a clear picture of how their talents intersect, check out “It’s Always a Woman.” Written by Burns, Poe and Don Goodman, this ballad features Burns on the verses, recounting the story of a man’s life lost to drink; his husky baritone is answered by Poe’s pure contralto on the chorus, ruminating on the role of a woman in his downfall as well as the promise of his redemption. Each sings thoughtfully, never overdoing the lyric. Unlike their sad protagonist, these two seem to have found their perfect artistic match.

Burns & Poe Photo Provided by Country Music Association

© 2010 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc


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