Angie and the Deserters – You
Angie and the Deserters’ third recording, a six song EP titled You, is a slight shift in gears from her previous release Blood Like Wine. There are no real barnburners in this release comparable to Blood Like Wine’s bruiser “Country Radio” and, instead, Angie Bruyere and her fellow musicians sound like an artistic unit intent on exploring a wider emotional array than before. The same clarity defining the production on her earlier releases continues with this new studio confection and it results in a group of songs that sound cut live on the floor mere minutes after they finalized their composition. This fresh quality captures the band seemingly in a state of constant inspiration and there’s no question Bruyere is there with every word of her vocals. This is bracing and physical music delivered from a place deep within and geared for broad-based audience appeal.
“Stay” immediately illustrates the different tenor of this EP over Bruyere’s last release. There’s obviously great care taken with the musical textures they want for these songs and “Stay” is delicately rendered while still taking on a solid and discernible melodic shape. The addition of instruments like mandolin has a dual effect of investing the track with more weight while further developing its melodic strengths. “Forgetting to Forget” is one of the more stylish songs on the release because it finds Bruyere appropriating one of the best possible vehicles, a painfully humorous hook, and builds something uniquely personal chronicling the narrator’s struggle with regret, longing, and continuing heartache. The EP’s title song finds Angie and the band bravely wading into a waltz with confidence and infectious enthusiasm. They play this song, however, with just the right amount of finesse needed to pull off the time signature while still making it quite accessible to someone who’s never encountered such a tempo before. It’s quite elegant and graceful.
“17 Days” is some low-key rumbling honkytonk that has a lot going on musically but maintains a clean, uncluttered sound. There’s a playful buoyancy in Bruyere’s voice and she seems to take positively joyful glee in toying with the song’s understated wordplay and imagery. “When the Nighttime Comes” unfolds slowly and, at over four minutes in length, is one of the EP’s longest tracks. Bruyere and her band mates are quite intent on creating an evocative atmosphere but never overplay their hand. The EP’s final track, “Goodbyes”, ends You on a tender-hearted and introspective note without ever surrendering any of the hard-won gravitas exuded by the earlier tracks. These moments of calm and unity come with a price in the world these songs inhabit and this feeling makes “Goodbyes” all the more effective.
Angie and the Deserters never sound studied or overly reverential. They play this music faithfully and close to the bone, but the tracks sparkle with countless flourishes and subtle touches that imbue their take on tradition with a distinctive, individualistic spin. You will find many listeners among her existing fan base but will surely open new inroads for Bruyere that brings her and the band closer to the recognition they rightly deserve.
9 out of 10 stars