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Two for the Road

Inspired by small town Texas and the vintage glamour of Hollywood, two Austin troubadours bring a timeless romance to fall's prettiest fashions.

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On Brennan: Coat by Yoshi Kondo, available at Bird Boutique; Scarf by Ulla Johnson, available at By George; Boots by LB, available at Allens; Bracelets by Noon Day; Bracelets by Eros Collective; Hat by Milli Star.

On Noel: Suit, shirt, and tie by Billy Reid; Belt by Bill Adler, available at Stag; Sunglasses by Super, available at Service Menswear; Boots, Noel’s own.

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On Brennan: Sweater and skirt available at Bird Boutique; Lingerie available at Teddies for Bettys; Necklace available at Raven + Lily; Hat by Goorin Brothers; Shoes by Angela Scott, available at Bird Boutique.

On Noel: Sweater by Obey, available at Service Menswear; Pants available at Billy Reid; Shoes by Sebago, available at Stag.

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On Brennan: Shirt and skirt by Billy Reid; Lingerie by Cosabella, available at Teddies for Bettys; Hat by Goorin Brothers; Necklace available at Raven + Lily; Bracelet available at Stag; Boots by Dries Van Noten, available at Garment.

On Noel: Shirt by RRL, Jeans by Iogene + Willie, Boots by Redwing, all available at Stag; Hat by Goorin Brothers; Suspenders and bracelet by Stowe Provisions.

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On Brennan: Vintage top and Necklace, available at Friends and Neighbors; Beret available at Bird Boutique; Leather leggins by Vince, available at By George.

On Noel: Shirt and pants by Billy Reid; Belt by Bill Adler, available at Stag.

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On Brennan: Cape by Arvi and Vintage dress, both available at Garment; sunglasses by Stella McCartney, available at By George.

On Noel: Shirt by Hartford, jeans by Naked and Famous, both available at Service Menswear; Necklace and bandana, both available at Stag.

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The first time I saw Guy Clark perform was at John T. Floore Country Store in Helotes. My husband and I drove our pickup to the legendary roadhouse from the ranch where we were employed, and plenty of others had driven in too: the parking lot was jammed and the longnecks were cold and abundant. We weren’t familiar with the opening act, the McKay Brothers (Noel and Hollin), from Bandera. But between their soulful lyrics about small-town “disappearing Texas" and original songs in flawless Spanish, we became instant fans, and eventually friends. Helotes is also the place Noel first introduced me to Brennen Leigh (then his opening act); he was effusive about her musicianship and bluegrass-inspired voice. “You’re going to love her,” he said.

Years later, I wasn’t surprised to discover they’d become collaborators; their latest album, produced by Gurf Morlix, is Before the World Was Made (available online or at Waterloo Records). They’re a striking couple to sing the poignant songs they favor (his rugged handsomeness softened by her throwback beauty). These days, when not on the road across the country and throughout Europe, they split their time between Austin and Nashville, where Brennen is working on two new solo projects. While she’s in the studio, Noel has time to write songs and build guitars with his mentor, Guy Clark. Funny how things work out. Noel McKay’s new solo album, Is That So Much to Ask, is built around an old, “cool sounding parlor guitar, a 1967 songwriters style,” he says, with songs co-written with David Olney, Clark ("Blue Wyoming Mountains"), Richard Dobson and, of course, Leigh. For more information, see noelandbrennen.com.

This feature was shot on location in historic downtown Taylor, Texas, at the McCrory Timmerman and Titsworth Buildings, a renovation project founded on the idea that the creative class is at the epicenter of any true revitalization. Upon completion, the project will house four large loft apartments, four gallery exhibition spaces, eight artist’s studios, a professional kitchen, retail spaces, a microbrewery, a coffee bar, and office spaces.

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