The Road Agents – Jeff Peterson, Bozeman, and Justin Ringsak, Helena – play “Southwest Montana acoustic rock and roll.” Peterson, guitar and vocals, wrote all the songs here, and Ringsak, mandolin and backing vocals, contributed his instrumental parts.
The fellas have professional careers, so music is a fun sideline. They both left Montana for a while, and love being back, playing in small towns and breweries.
Travel is in their blood, and the Road Agents’ songs highlight the lure of the highway. The music is clean and uncluttered. Infectious rhythms, long sustained intros and interludes of guitar chording, coupled with mando riffs, set up that feeling of constant motion. But there’s a desire to return home, too, as detailed in “Highway 191.”
“All Alone” is a nice country loper, and “Fire” reminds us to relax, don’t stress the small things.
Peterson spent a lot of time in the desert, and those experiences color his writing. His scratchy baritone trembles with emotion; it’s rough-hewn and authentic.
In the exotic “Border Story,” he growls lyrics, pouring out a litany of cities he’s visited, and describes the lay of he land, conveying a vivid visual feel. Writing about true-life events makes the songs believable, Peterson says.
“Fossil Creek” is about taking risks, seeking new experiences, to make us feel alive. The song is in a spooky minor key, imparting a feeling of foreboding. Peterson hikes out of a canyon in a blizzard at night in one verse, then shares his fear while lost in a desert cave in another. His party gets out alive only after discovering a bottle of malt liquor left next to a hidden shaft showing the way out. That’s definitely worth singing about!
– Mariss McTucker