This Northern California unit, led by vocalist/songwriter Nathalie Archangel and husband, singer/guitarist Mark Montijo, both former pop-rockers, focus on twang-filled country with obvious pop overtones. Behind her smoky, aggressive voice and Montijo’s more-relaxed vocal delivery, the band is strong and economical, particularly guitarist Brad Sears and steel/resophonic player Kevin Gallagher.
The pickers and arrangements are, far and away, the album’s strongest points, another affirmation of how capable instrumentalists can enhance material. For example, the well-defined and articulated steel guitar of Gallagher – whose picking is set amongst compositions that never seem convincing – is the best part of “Just Another Honky Tonk Night.” Sears uses languid and fluent tremolo guitar to introduce “The Withering Romance of Trains.”
On “Fete Ginette,” a stew of well-known Louisiana tropes, Gallagher’s shimmering steel again brings a reassuring sense of cohesion, one that that fits the song’s good-timey message. The strongest moments on the Archangel/Montijo duet “19 Hand Tale” come from Gallagher’s limber resophonic licks. “Revel” is well-arranged to showcase Archangel’s vocal. “Remarkable Dude” reflects her sincere and heartfelt admiration for Austin music great Ray Wylie Hubbard, a figure only now getting the recognition he has long been due.
This article originally appeared in VG’s August 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.