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'Take These Thoughts,' Drenched in Harmony

The L.A.-based duo Chris & Thomas revels in straightforward simplicity.
The L.A.-based duo Chris & Thomas revels in straightforward simplicity.

From its name to its stripped-down acoustic Americana, the L.A.-based duo Chris & Thomas revels in straightforward simplicity. But make no mistake: There's nothing easy about writing songs as purely infectious as "Take These Thoughts," especially for those who forego lavish production or fleshed-out arrangements.

To fans who fell in love with the pair's two-year-old Vista Street Sessions EP, Chris & Thomas' new Land of Sea is a mixed blessing: It reworks five of its predecessor's six songs, in a bit of recycling mitigated only by the opportunity for the music to reach a larger audience. "Take These Thoughts" appears on both discs, and there's no mystery as to why: The track is a warm, harmony-drenched roots-pop gem that hits its mark with glorious efficiency.

For all its lilting mandolin lines and rich vocal interplay (Chris and Thomas are nothing if not born to sing simultaneously), there's an unnerving underbelly to "Take These Thoughts," from the opening line ("And all I want is all that you possess") to the chilling last. The overall effect is as agreeably soothing as iced tea on a front porch in the summertime — with a slice of lemon to offset all that sweetness, of course.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

This column originally ran on July 17, 2007.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)