From Neko Case to her rotating cast of Room-Mates, alt-country card Carolyn Mark knows how to play well with others. Factor in the boozy madcap energy of her live shows and the fact that her best pals play in some of the country's cooler bands, and a laid-back disc of late-night duets seems like it'd be a brilliant idea. Sadly, Just Married doesn't quite take the cake. The first problem is the haphazard recording quality, the charm of which rapidly wears off. The second is that Mark inevitably goes for an easy punchline when she'd be better served playing it straight. She hits a real low point with Rocket Piano Man, which finds her and Amy Honey mixing Space Oddity, Piano Man and Rocket Man in a stoner-dumb parody. There are a couple bright spots when Mark stops hamming: her chord-shifting run at I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, with Luke Doucet, is surprisingly touching, and her interplay with Carey Mercer on his oddball cabaret Claxton's Lament is a risk that pays off.
Carolyn Mark sidles up to Harbourfront's T.O. Twang fest Friday (August 12).