When it came time for Tim Coffey and Kat Hilst to begin recording their new album in December, they had some songs ready to go and a few more that needed a little work.
But when they arrived at Keith Banning’s Lonely Grange Recorders studio in Sisters, they were confronted with a space so pristine, it demanded that they step up their efforts.
“We had to refine what we were doing,” Coffey said. “The sound was so good (we had to) make sure whatever (we) played was meant to be played.”
The result is an album, “The Lonely Grange Sessions,” that draws out the natural warmth of Hilst & Coffey’s earthy folk, blues and Celtic music. Packed with his percussive acoustic guitar and the rich textures of her cello, the record courses with the chemistry that has made the duo one of the busiest bands in Bend over the past few years.
That was by design, Coffey said.
“When Kat and I play live, most of the time it’s just her and I,” he said. “We’ve had a number of requests from people to get more instrumentals recorded and to really have it just be focused on her and I. And that’s what this is.”
Banning’s studio — suggested by Franchot Tone, who mixed “Lonely Grange” and played on it, too — was set up perfectly for what the duo wanted.
“We just had a ball. Basically we sat across from each other,” Coffey said, “and we just played.”
As a whole, the album is more upbeat and danceable than Coffey’s 2011 album “Strings Unbound,” with seven instrumentals among its 12 songs. On several tunes, Hilst’s cello carries what would typically be the vocal melody. (Last year’s “The Goat Rodeo Sessions,” an eclectic, virtuoso project by Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile and others, was a major inspiration, the duo said.)
And throughout, the intangible interaction between wood, strings, hands and well-placed microphones in an acoustically sublime environment is on full display.
“It’s very human,” Hilst said. “The things that I consider imperfections, I really feel like it’s real people playing. It’s not scrubbed and polished and tone-pitched and whatever else.”
Coffey concurs: “When I hear it, I just say, ‘Wow, that’s just us playing that song in that room together.’ I’m really proud of it.”
Hilst & Coffey CD release, with Wild Rye; 7 p.m. Wednesday; McMenamins Old St. Francis School, 700 N.W. Bond St., Bend; www.mcmenamins.com.