Published Apr 16, 2020Montreal folk four-piece Maybel — a group that financed their debut LP Gathering, in part, by selling homemade knitted hats — have delivered a fittingly cozy collection of 10 vocally-focused, jangly country tracks, recorded over the span of only five days, that reflect an untold softer perspective of their hardened wintry hometown.
Inspired by Trio, the 1987 collaboration between Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, the band's three-part harmonies and decadent lap steel hearken back to a simpler time — before "gatherings" were wiped from daily existence and solitude became our new normal.
The record's subdued palettes offer buoyant comfort from the get-go and create a nostalgic, calming portrait of home. Standout tracks "Bird Song," "Two Left Feet, Alright," "Bliss in Solitude" and "Winter City" represent the group in their purest form, balancing lushly produced, sleepy downtempo ballads backed by resounding bass with an equal offering of upbeat art-folk-tinged stompers.
Maybel's fresh take on the traditional genre is something to behold: these are the frontline faces of a new kind of country. Their witchy, youthful expressions of identity, home and camaraderie mark the flexible borderline between the past and future. If Gathering could be summarized by any segment of its lyrical content, envision a forested waterside scene with sun setting over shimmering ripples, as Maybel's three vocalists croon, "I can't stand city living anymore." (Vain Mina)