MONTGOMERY CHURCH IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOUNTAIN

From their home in the austere Snowy Mountains region of NSW, Cielle Montgomery and James Church make a rare kind of hill country magic: spinning gossamer tapestries with timeless acoustic sounds, quicksilver vocal harmonies, and the kind of unassuming storytelling that burrows deep into the subconscious. With their glorious debut LP, the duo frequently draws from the same wellspring as Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings (see especially ‘I’m Gonna Love Her All the Time’), while also tipping their hats to all corners of the trad. country and Americana compass: from classic high-lonesome hillbilly waltz ‘Your Troubled Mind’, to world-weary lament ‘When They Ring the Bell’, with its plaintive Dobro, to engrossing moonshiner’s jaunt ‘The Stillman’. Showcasing Church’s immense Dobro chops, instrumental ‘Middlingbank Road’ rambles up hill and down dale, while the up-tempo ‘Daisy Lee’ thrills with all the abandon of its shiftless anti-heroine. Few albums of recent memory plumb such depths of feeling with such exquisite ease. Gareth Hipwell