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Lac La Belle conjures traditional bluegrass, roots and Americana – in a very wheat-field-set-checkered-plaid-laden buoyancy with a string-strong line up of acoustic guitar with stand-up bass and swapping between the honky pick of a banjo or the shimmering jingle of a mandolin. Their presentation is a masterful one, born from the sharing of intense reverence for this more than 50-years-gone-feeling American style of the working-class folk troubadours, Appalachian-strummers and a bit of southwestern hat-doffing ho-hum elegance/charm. The jangling guitars, the choppety strums and intricate finger picks over the steady stepping bass are all that serve for percussion (for most of this record). Guitarist Nick Schillace and bassist Joel Peterson are both not only well traveled through our local scene, but well versed in blues, folk, experimental and even afrobeat. Schillace takes the lead on vocals occassionally, but often serves as an ideal smooth night-sky-like bounce-off palette for the vibrant burning/soaring star warble of operatic-informed Jennie Knaggs—songstress of staggering passions (both in musical appreciation and in live performance).
With a couple years to fuse their unique talents and common folk-set-flairs, the trio’s chemistry shines here on a batch of songs that could have easily fit into Seeger’s Newport Folk Festival; the intertwining guitars and the bass’ bob-n-boom and these goosebump harmonies between Knaggs and Schillace – who know well how to balance their dynamism with a more subtle back-porch rocking chair wind-down – melancholic musings along with rousing, stomping hurrahs – pure bluegrass, folk and wilderness-conjuring, sunny backroads-shuffling Amreicana.