Angie and the Deserters – You
The latest release from New York born and now California based Angie Bruyere and her band the Deserters, a six song collection entitled You, doubles down on and expands the successful artistic vision established on her previous two releases. Her skills were extraordinarily developed from her debut release, but later live shows and new songs along the way have allowed her already considerable talents to blossom in unexpected and thrilling ways. Her vocal chops are unquestionable, but she gets a chance to broaden them with this release thanks to resonate yet suggestively personal songwriting that nods to the genre’s conventions, but wrings bloody new life from them thanks to Bruyere’s lung-bursting passion and dramatic phrasing. The production renders the EP’s songs with startling clarity and balance while still managing to highlight Angie’s superb vocal skills.
Her pipes are full of much more than bluesy bluster. Bruyere shows a real fluency of technique and commitment on the opener “Stay”. This is a song largely cut from the ballad tradition in traditional music, but never sounds like a retro cut sonically. The musicians keep their playing deliberately understated while still subtly underscoring the longing and pain chewing at the edges of the song’s calm. There are strong commercial qualities here thanks to the production and strong melodic virtues. “Forgetting to Forget” is much more directly in the vein of traditional country songwriting, particularly with the bittersweet black humor of the title and chorus. Bruyere and her musical partners alike are able to invoke this feel without ever falling into imitation or tribute; instead, Bruyere’s songwriting rings true thanks to its vulnerability and plain-spoken lyrical beauty.
Personal pain has rarely been given such an elegant treatment as it is on the EP’s title track. It also gives Angie a spotlight number that shows off her sheer artistry with phrasing – the lyrics are quite solid, but there’s something about the way Bruyere inhabits each syllable that carries the song’s narrative to a whole other level. “17 Days” certainly invokes a lot of traditional country imagery, but it never feels faked or ham-fisted in Bruyere’s hands. Some voices are simply transcendent at the delicate art of pouring old wine into new bottles and Bruyere’s interpretative powers raise it to an even higher level. The whiff of personal apocalypse swirls around the penultimate track “When the Nighttime Comes” and Bruyere doubles down on that atmosphere by delivering an emphatic, chest-rattling vocal. The band whips up quite a sonic storm in accompaniment that beautifully compliments her voice. The EP’s last track “Goodbyes” summons, arguably, Bruyere’s most sensitive performance. In lesser hands, this song might have descended into bathos and melodrama, but Bruyere’s emotional range and artful restraint turns it into heart-wrenching elegy.
This is Angie and the Deserters’ peak release, but they have further to go still. The band’s interplay and their chemistry with Bruyere has grown by leaps and bounds and exponentially deepened since their debut release. Bruyere’s voice, a prodigious gift from the outset, has likewise grown more musical and confident with additional releases thanks to the terrific progress her songwriting has made. You places Angie and the Deserters are far firmer ground than ever before and opens the highway in front of them leading to an even brighter tomorrow.
9 out of 10 stars