Helena duo Micah Eller and Dave Prudden’s new album came about when Eller’s family gave her a Christmas gift of recording time. The result is nine homemade songs by Eller ranging from what the duo’s Facebook page notes as “acoustic folksy stuff to bluesy jazziness.” I hear a country-rock flavor and a hip pop throwback as well.
Prudden rocks on drums and Eller plays acoustic guitar and sings in a clear, high voice. Arrangements are sparse and simple, with good production values from Missoula’s Ryan Maynes, who also contributes piano and harpsichord.
Eller says she writes from experience, feelings she’s had or from stories she creates. “Red Rider,” with its reverby, quick tempo, references good times from the past. Eller says it was a way to process difficult emotions after a friend had passed suddenly in an accident.
“Alone” is a mid-tempo loper with crisp drum work. Eller vocalizes about finding herself partner-less, yet wakes to the idea that she can begin to live life for herself. She sings her own harmony and some high woo-woos that reflect that freeing emotion.
On the folk-nuanced “Getting Old,” Eller sings about aging, sometimes in unison with herself, and “Duck Feathers” has a snappy country beat and an interesting chord pattern. I hear wisps of Judy Collins in Eller’s buoyant sound. Her tunes are light and airy, even those with not-so-happy lyrics.
Maynes opens the bittersweet “Not My Home” with cavernous piano chords as Prudden rocks the traps. “Pirate Boy” finds Eller singing to the bluesy clip-clop of drums, overworked and dragged down by someone else. “You’re a shipwreck,” she sings, “with a chip on your shoulder; I’m cold-hearted and not very sober.” Now that’s a lyric!
– Mariss McTucker