There are plenty of couple acts cutely reenacting Sonny and Cher, Johnny and June, Ike and Tina. It’s a thing on which countless publicists have attempted to capitalize: “Not only are they married, they also write and perform together!” But while the Crushed Outs and the Johnnyswims and the Holly Golightly/Lawyer Daves of the touring circuit have a place in our hearts, few couples come across as so perfectly matched and adorably suited as Eric Kuhn and Erica Fink of eric + erica.
The duo opened for Sean Hayes at The Grey Eagle this week. Kuhn later sat in with Hayes, with whom he’d toured in the past. But these days, Kuhn and Fink have traded their Bay Area locale for North Carolina and are currently based in Durham.
Onstage, Fink played auto harp and sang lead vocals. Kuhn played synthesizer, backing vocals and beats. Songs ranged from the sweetly quirky “Wild Holiday” to the deeply groovy “Baby” (a Donnie and Joe Emerson cover) — all of which seemed to draw from the couple’s obvious infatuation with each other. Their easy harmonies, the way his tenor provided a base from which she could take her vocal though its acrobatics. Not that Fink over-sang anything (she easily could have — hers is a remarkable voice), and not that the duo’s glances and whispers seemed over the top, either. Instead, they come across as wholly genuine and their songs, their swoony, twilit, longing-seeped missives, are exactly the sort of love songs anyone would want written for and sung to them.
In fact, eric + erica write songs for people who are in love and simultaneously mournful at the very idea that such a love could come to an end. Each nuance — each twinkly keyboard melody, each lanky beat, each strum of the auto harp — is crafted to touch that bruise of knowing that the flip side to having is losing. And somehow that makes those sweet moments of true love that much more intoxicating, fleeting as they are, already fading into the blue hour of dusk.
Which is not to say that these are sad songs. Charming, tender, vintage-tinged: yes. These are slow dances (waltz time signatures are a favorite of the couple). Songs like “The Great Imposter” and the slow-burning “All of the Time” vaguely recall Skeeter Davis without relying on ’60s nostalgia. Crisp beats and a sexy, heavy drop in the melody add a breathless and contemporary feel to the latter.
Hopefully eric + erica continue to fan the flames of their (obvious) mutual adoration so that we can benefit from the music that relationship generates.