In romance, they say opposites attract. In songwriting, there's often a slightly different chemistry at work.
Take the team of Eric Lowen and Dan Navarro, for example. On some levels, says Navarro, the two are very much alike. "Eric and I both come from reasonably literate backgrounds," says Navarro, over the phone from Chicago, where the duo is relaxing between shows. Each has a strong background in songwriting, a similar sense of style, and a strong tenor voice.
"But we come from two different technical and emotional points of view," says Navarro. "The things he tries to bring into play in a song are a sense of even-handedness and a sense of focus. What I pretty much like to do is dig down way, way deep and bring up these ugly things."
Yet those dissimilarities rarely get in the way of the duo's music. If anything, the differences help complete the whole. "We come up with a kind of unified vision that way," he says. "It's been kind of a hallmark of what we've done. Eric and I are as different as night and day and have managed to bring an awful lot to the table that way."
"Sometimes in shaping the songs to two people's points of view, there's a sense of universality that comes into play," agrees Lowen. "But it's also just trying to distill human experience to a point where it really hits home in a song, where lyric meets melody and creates magic. You bring your own experience into it, but you also bring observation. That's where some of the power comes from, and where, hopefully, some of the resonance comes out.
"Sometimes, I feel a million miles away from understanding how that all works," he adds. "Our first album was called 'Walking On a Wire,' and the title song was about misrepresentation. There's a line in there that goes, 'You told the truth, but you're still a liar,' and there are so many people who identify with that, who come up to us and say, 'I felt like you were writing about me.' "
Of course, it's not always easy to tell which of the two is responsible for what. Take the song "All Is Quiet," from the duo's current album, "Broken Moon."
"The first verse is sung by Eric, but that's my lyric," says Navarro. "The second verse is sung by me, but that's his lyric. We were in the studio and just realized that the quality the voices brought to the particular lyric was better suited if we switched it around."
Above all, what Lowen & Navarro try to bring to their music is a sense of real humanity, instead of relying on romantic cliche or knee-jerk negativity.
"What we try to do is follow our own feelings and the way that we look at things," says Lowen. "We do acknowledge the fact of life. We don't sugar-coat it. But what we're about is being able to tell people that, sure, life stinks, but maybe there's something we can do about it."
Lowen & Navarro
When: Saturday, July 23, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Mid-Atlantic Wine Festival, Sandy Point State Park, Annapolis
Tickets: $15 (no one under 21 without parent or guardian)
Call: (410) 481-7328 for tickets
When: Sunday, July 24, 8 p.m.
Call: (410) 536-7220 or (410) 481-7328 for tickets
Listen to the 'Moon'
To hear excerpts from Lowen & Navarro's latest album, "Broken Moon," call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call 268-7736; in Harford County, 836-5028; in Carroll County, 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6114 after you hear the greeting.