HGR CD Review: The Strayers

THE STRAYERS – THE STRAYERS (no label) The Strayers – Bill and Denise – were married in 2003, and started making music together six years later; with Bill playing guitar, and Denise taking up accordion. Both sing. They brought aboard percussionist Josh Troup to round out the trio as they recorded their self-titled debut album last fall. The Strayers’ blend of acoustic guitar, accordion and soft percussion immediately gives them their own distinctive folk/Americana style and sound over the disc’s ten tracks; six original songs and four interpretations. Produced and mixed by Mark Ross (Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats) and Noah Figlin (The Nightcrawlers), The Strayers has a simple, rustic quality to it; with Denise’s prominent accordion groan providing a constant and soothing underscore to the melodies. Those melodies are engaging, as The Strayers sing about personal experiences and observations along life’s journey. Displaying a rugged, hearty singing style, Bill shares lessons learned on such numbers as “Remind Me I’m Kind and “Sometimes the Sometimes,” and asserts his resolve on “I’m Not Running.” On “Things Got the Best of Me,” he repents for a moment of haste. “Nothing’s Gonna Change” shares frustration over the troubled state of today’s society and world, while “On My Way” is more hopeful in tone. Denise shares her cautious and modest singing style on two of the group’s remakes; the Avett Brothers’ “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise,” and a catchy folk spin on the Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself.” The performances are honest and heartfelt, and the vibe is tranquil and informal; the listener can sense the relaxed, comfortable atmosphere that went into this recording. The Strayers provide a unique and memorable folk-based sound on their debut; a captivating set that sets the table for what this group has to offer, and establishes a foundation for them to explore from. (The CD can be obtained through the group’s website, www.thestrayers.com.)