The PhiLL(er)

The Mighty Ship Cover
Angela Desveaux

The Mighty Ship
Thrill Jockey Records

Angela Desveaux has a beautiful alto voice and plays a brand of country-inflected guitar music. The charm and beauty of the record is the even hand that Angela Desveaux and her band apply to both the country style and the straightforward guitar pop sensibility of somebody like Matthew Sweet or John Strohm. The result, particularly over the first half of the record, is music that sounds familiar without sounding quite like anything else. Basically, this album falls into the category of music you'll like on first listen without getting ripcharge excited about it. Except that the second half of the record has two songs—the title track and the final one—that jump out immediately as outstanding pieces of songwriting, musically and lyrically. And when you listen to the whole album again, you'll get a little excited about the other stuff, too. And when you listen to it the next time you'll realize that by the time you've heard it a couple more times you'll actually be ripcharge excited about the entire thing. Case in point: "Sure Enough", with its chorus that sounds like something that could sidle into late-seventies, early-eighties mainstream radio playlists, bridging—and I promise I mean this as a compliment—Anne Murray and Carly Simon, or "The Way You Stay", which is a Nashville hit with softer musical edges and sharper lyrics. "Joining Together" is heart-attack slow and heartbreak beautiful, from the lyrics to the guitar solo to the violin that joins the final verse. And the title track is five minutes of heaven, a joint-creaking sea funeral with lamenting horns and beautiful vocal harmonies. I'll go so far as to say it's one of the best songs on anything I've reviewed all year.

You'll be putting songs from this album on every mixtape you make from this day forward. If you still make mixtapes. Whatever. You know what I mean.