Jonathan Rado: "Hand in Mine"

from Law and Order (Jagjaguwar; 2013)

By Maura McAndrew | 19 July 2013

Any time an indie rocker approaches the duet, there should be trepidation; it’s way too easy to go cute and sincere and commit too vehemently to reproducing a perfect retro sound (and this is where She & Him sometimes falter). But “Hand in Mine,” the new solo track by Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, manages to plays like a lost Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra tune from the ’60s, which is to say it’s somehow not cutesy, and only pleasantly, passingly retro.

Rado, who is no stranger to the task of reinterpreting classic pop styles, and guest vocalist Jaclyn Cohen invest “Hand in Mine” with just the right aloof drawl and jangly sound, much like Hazelwood and Sinatra did in their day—dueting yet making sure we know they’re too cool for it, him probably tipping back a whiskey and she poolside-lounging in something crocheted. Though Rado and Cohen’s vocals are charming (particularly Cohen’s cloudy, engaging style), the real star here is the carefully balanced sound of the shaggy guitar, orchestral synth, and the thump of the tambourine. “Hand in Mine” is mercifully underproduced, which gives it a rough, effortless ’70s feel.

Effortlessness is the basic key to this easygoing summer tune. It’s one of few duets I can actually listen to without feel stifled by forced cheer; it’s just a man and a woman, singing a love song, and that classic, humble approach produces a classic, humble sound.

► “Hand in Mine”