Not since the Civil Wars’ brief but brightly burning career has a male-female duo displayed such a captivating chemistry. But while the Civil Wars were more rooted in ethereal acoustic folk, Striking Matches fully embrace their rock & roll influences. The duo — made up of Sarah Zimmermann and Justin Davis — will release their debut full-length album, Nothing But the Silence, on March 24th. Produced by T Bone Burnett, the LP showcases the guitar acrobatics of Zimmermann and Davis, which are on full display in the video for the first single, “Hanging On a Lie.” (Watch the video above.)
Opening with the singer-guitarists seated opposite each other in a cluttered room, the pair shoots daggers with their conflicted stares. But the real throwdown happens when they pick up their guitars. Like an actually exciting fencing duel, Zimmermann and Davis parry and attack, stabbing with chords and riffs, until Zimmermann goes full-on Matrix and flings a handful of picks at her combatant, striking him in the heart.
In an example of a video pairing well with its song, the rising tension of the clip mirrors the drama of “Hanging On a Lie.” Davis says the tune was born during a long, driven jam.
“When we’re writing by ourselves, we’re trying to push the envelope as much as we can, and push each other as players and as writers,” he tells Rolling Stone Country. “When we’re sitting around, we could be jamming for hours on a certain thing. So it can develop a lot slower and a lot more intricately that way.”
Ironically, the guitar-heavy tune was written on Zimmermann’s mandolin. “She was just goofing off, playing this happy, major riff. I said, ‘Hang on, hang on. Make that minor,'” Davis says. “You could almost just feel the rhythm behind it, the funkiness.”
Striking Matches will perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville this month, before heading overseas for a string of dates in the U.K. in May.