Unintended Strangers, the Indie/folk duo comprised of Robert Griffin (U.S) and Chloe Danz (New Zealand), met over the internet by chance during November 2017. A friendship sparked, since they both share the same appreciation for delicate, dynamic, heartfelt and organically created music. Hence the two began their complicated journey of making music via emails, voice notes and Skype meetings from opposite sides of the world. They eventually used local studios in their respective countries, to piece together the back and forth moving tracks. The end result is that by 2019, Unintended Strangers have released a critically acclaimed EP and a series of stunningly beautiful singles – having never actually met in person yet! The duo’s musical story starts with their debut track “Beautiful Disaster”.
The feeling of connection here is palpable. Musically sparse settings, with all the individual instruments making their presence felt, but it is the vocals that will haunt you. Not traditional harmonies but Griffin and Danz play off each other in some kind of subtle sync that becomes more and more evident through repeated plays.
Lyrically there is always a bit of mystery, letting the listener fill in the blanks but creating a feeling of intrigue about the deeper meaning. The graceful piano notes dominant the background, allowing gentle string flourishes to color the song’s fine-grained timbre.
Chloe Danz’s voice is something beyond spectacular to behold. Her finely spun pastel tones resonate with an intensity that will engrave itself onto your soul. Unintended Strangers’ pairing is absolutely magical. If you love singer-songwriter/folksy type music, you’ll love “Nothing is Forever”.
It’s hard to believe the two have never met, because they have perfected intimacy as a performance art. The song bristles with a tangible closeness, having just the beauty of a finger-picked acoustic guitar and a melancholic violin bounding the two voices. The natural chemistry is fabulous, and cannot be manufactured. This duo is the real thing.
Most of the songs in the collection are down tempo and a bit haunting lyrically. This works perfectly for the incredible vocals. There is no competition between the voices and the instruments, no wall of sound in the way of the magical harmonies. This is as close to perfection as I’ve ever heard from any indie-folk duo.
“Forget” has a gorgeously bittersweet melody that is so good, I can play it in my head while listening to other music – it’s that strong. The music and voices swoop, dive, and soar with perfect timing; intertwining, separating and, suddenly, intertwining once again. Robert Griffin and Chloe Danz work their music together, and separately, reminding me of synchronizing acrobatics.
The track “Human”, is a reworked cover of the Dodie original, but a different musical creature altogether, in terms of mood and intention, from my personal point of view. Whereas I found the original to be devastatingly sad under its almost playful beat, the Unintended Strangers’ version seems to be laced with gentle, but powerful rays of hope.
Despite the somber delivery and storyline, I perceive a sense of confident optimism in the voice and instrumentation. The singing of the pair, with their barely restrained emotion, touches a person deeply.
Their songwriting on their latest release, “All I Do”, has depth rarely encountered these days. The lyrics are so poetical, evoking scenes which vary from one person’s mind to another, as life’s experiences dictate, while the music perfectly complements with a depth of poetry all its own.
You know that you are hearing something very special when listening to this wonderful combination of music and lyric writing, brought to life with the soaring, gentle, and loving vocals. Few better natural performances can be found anywhere, in any time period, in any musical genre. This is a beautifully evocative and fresh piece of work by an extremely talented duo that will hopefully be around for many years.
This collection of songs delivers strong melodies and thoughtful lyrics, impressively played with gracefully restrained and tasteful organic arrangements. As if those qualities weren’t enough, perhaps the best thing about Unintended Strangers are the heartfelt, exquisite vocals. In short, Robert Griffin and Chloe Danz blow me away. They truly make my heart soar. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us on their next release!