Angie and the Deserters – Stay
Angie Bruyere’s path is far from typical. The New York State native and Southern California transplant might have a bi-coastal lineage, but her voice is steeped in traditional Americana forms and she brings a ton of soul to everything she sings. The latest release from Angie and the Deserters, “Stay”, focuses on the band’s skill for crafting deeply felt and low key material without ever sacrificing an ounce of vibrant spirit heard in their more energetic recordings. Her experiences as an in-demand modeling talent seem far removed from the rustic and unvarnished charms of gems like this, but something of the same charisma and likability comes off of her vocal and lures listeners in. The song betrays the more country and folkie side of her musical character, but nothing feels or sounds like a pose. It isn’t difficult to believe everything about this song is ripped straight from the pages of her own life and the bleeding is painfully beautiful to hear.
It comes through in every line. Angie has either lived this song, more than once, or else she is fine interpreter. Both explanations are likely true. “Stay” has a strongly lived-in quality thanks to the presence she brings to individual lines and the overall vocal quality. This is a singer perfectly in sync with the material and the obvious care she takes to shape her voice against the arrangement is a highlight of the recording. “Stay” comes from a long tradition in Americana and country music, but it never sounds like some slavish tribute. Instead, the performance comes off utterly heartfelt thanks to the aforementioned attention she pays to the music and the understated flair she brings to the lyric phrasing. In the end, Bruyere’s voice becomes an instrument in its own right and dovetails nicely into the band’s work.
The violin playing that stands out from the band performance locks in with her voice while providing a welcome melodic and tonal contrast. It often has a slightly melancholy quality that the human voice cannot mimic, but also duets with Bruyere’s singing to often magnificent effect. The acoustic guitar and mandolin work are straight ahead and free from embellishment, but it’s their solid approach that the song needs and they provide Bruyere’s voice and the violin with a great foundation to work from. The words, as well, never reach too far and suit the songwriting. This is a pretty widespread experience we’ve all felt depicted in “Stay”, but the words leave things open-ended enough that Bruyere can summon a variety of emotions for listeners to hook into. Bruyere, moreover, sings with such emphatic feeling that she seems to be singing for all of us and that effect will be felt by many listeners. Singles like this, from any genre, aren’t so common anymore. Instead of feeling like it’s pandering some for our attention, Angie and the Deserters’ “Stay” sounds like something torn out of the band and beats with vibrant life.