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Angel Band - With Roots And Wings
Review By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

Start with three distinct voices. Voices rich, clear and full, add celebrated producer Lloyd Maines, include a pitch perfect band, then blend an assortment of meaningful and inspired tunes. The result is, if I dare play with the obvious, angelic.

Meet the Angel Band.

The driving vocal force of the outfit is Nancy Josephson, Jen Schonwald and Kathleen Weber. These women are versatile, passionate, and blessed with collective harmony and individual style. Their music is a fusion, a creative melding, of country, folk and Americana. They have just released their debut album. It’s out on Appleseed Recordings.

It’s impressive. Very.

Hailing from Wilmington, Delaware, the women have what many in music crave; they possess the almost indefinable it. They bring feel and passion to the crowded country music market, and they do it with style, energy and commitment.

For a relatively new musical venture -- the girls have only been performing for two years -- their voices are harmony pure and their distinctive presence plays out well on With Roots And Wings. The 13 tracks travel easily on a path of fine musicianship, courtesy of six-piece backing band Chum. The tapestries of mandolin, steel, Dobro, fiddle, add wholesome weight to the introspective and image-driven shades on show here.

From the opening “Hey Papa Legba”, a shortish tune (1:17)  with a Haitian Vodou link, onto the instilled charm of Chip Taylor’s musical coup for Merilee Rush, the somber Angel Of The Morning, to all album points, the music, the voices and the playing is, well, divine.       

The lyrics of “I’ll Sing This Song For You” (Nancy Josephson), with its female take on relationship sacrifice, where Nancy sings the do’s she’ll deliver to keep love alive. It’s an interesting and almost dated perspective. A vibrant tune, sure, but the notion of giving up your life to be someone’s wife/partner/lover is brave in these times of demanded equality.

“I will wait backstage for you
I’ll stay off the front page for you
I’ll cut off all my hair for you
Let you choose what I’m gonna wear for you
I’ll even sing the blues for you
I’ll sell all my shoes for you…” 

Hmm…now, that’s love.

A deeper and more factual reality of love comes bare in the telling “We Are Shepherds”. “We’re not soldiers in any army,” say the lyrics, “allowing bombs or bullets strafe, we are mothers armed with a mission, to keep our charges safe.”  The tune is a thoughtful piece, timely and reflective, as it honours family bonds, and importantly, in these turbulent global times, the weight mothers carry – often alone and often silently.

Other standouts from these musical bluebloods include the sadness of cold love that only lingers because of the kids, as played on “Place Of Grace”. There’s the sparse, bare and bluesy “Drown In The Fountain Of Good,” and personal favorite “Moon Over Montgomery,” where Kathleen Weber vocalises, plaintively, on the woes of a lone woman fighting to survive her blue-collar outcome.

“North of town where life runs fast
The children play in the city trash
Broken glass laying in the street
It’s a dangerous place for little feet…
Way ‘cross town on the same avenue
She cleans homes of the well-to-do
She takes the bus and walks the rest of the way
It’s just five miles but it’s a world away.”

For those who like their music clean, real and pure, this is for you…the Angel Band…heavenly.

To order your copy, click here!

Related Links:   
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