Marlon Williams (the Unfaithful Ways) is a young man with a silken, haunting voice that invites comparisons to Elvis. Delaney Davidson, who has six solo albums behind him, is a real troubadour with a dark sense of humour, and a deep, stripped-back voice, more like Tom Waits. Together, they spin a heady concoction of truth-seeking, love-lorn, foot-stomping stories, accompanied by guitars, piano, the occasional banjo, bass, drums, and some beautiful pedal steel. And the combination of original tracks and covers works seamlessly, with the pair more than holding their own next to names like Hank Williams and Reverend Gary Davis.

Travelling Creature is a great opener, encapsulating a fear of mortality and wasted life in three and a half minutes. Bloodletter has a wonderful swampy, bluesy bent to its gothic country tale, with ghostly honky tonk piano and swaying guitars. It's a highlight, as is their romping version of Death Don't Have No Mercy with just the right balance of humour and menace; and heart-breakingly poignant Heaven For You has the air of a true classic. They only lose a star because a couple of tracks don't quite catch the wild passion and potency they deliver live, but it's a small quibble on an irresistibly honest album that's anything but saccharine.

Stars: 4/5
Verdict: Nothing saccharine about this potent country album
Click here to buy Sad But True: The Secret History of Country Music Songwriting Volume One.