3 Pairs of Boots
Country music will never die, and it’s everywhere. Take note of this California country duo of Andrew Stern and Laura Arias. They met over a common interest in roots rock, and Mighty Love is their third album. The arrangements are Nashville complex, with lots of filigrees from that showy guitar work that made America sit up and notice these early country artists. Arias’s vocals are sweet and a little quavery—she sounds vulnerable yet an able fighter. Her voice would be wonderful for a storyteller putting a child to sleep. Her musical and life partner Andrew Stern manages the arrangements, and while it’s pure country, we hear modern effects to polish their sound and make real music sound even more real.
Compositions grab at your heart and even pull out the occasional tear. We hear a fresh new take on some old paradigms and some old sounds, and they are better than the originals. Some tracks cover socially conscious events like the dock strikes in the 1930s in “Labor Day.” “Ghosted” follows a slow and soft approach to a lost romance that’s looking for hope and finding it. This song points blame on one party that might have made a good pairing, but instead all we find on the floor is burnt out relationships lost in life’s static. That’s about as country as music can get. But we also find more cheerful tunes, like the title track “Mighty Love.” Now we feel a happy vibe. Here the singer has mighty plans for that man she just met. Aren’t women always trying to improve the man? Just about anyone I get close to tries to file some edges off of me. They never succeed, and I doubt she’ll succeed either, but at least she’s giving it the old college try. Lastly, I randomly pick the track “Just Call Him.” Tonight somebody just cleaned up at a rodeo, and there’s a party going on. Will anything come of this impromptu wild excess? Or will he just leave our singer like all those before and head down the road to the next rodeo? Maybe, maybe not, but this IS country after all, and anything unhappy is possible.