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Country - Released September 27, 2019 | Yep Roc Records

If Angelo Badalamenti and Chris Isaak teamed up to produce a country album, it might sound something like Desert Dove, the fourth album from vocalist and songwriter Michaela Anne. The arrangements and production set this apart from a typical country album in 2019; the sound of this music is firmly rooted in country traditions and as a lyricist, Michaela Anne composes songs that are honest and down to earth, even as her graceful melodies and sweetly clear voice are the spoonful of honey that makes it all go down so comfortably. But the broad sweep of the echoey mix, the occasional cry of the string section, the lonely tone of the twangy guitar figures, and the introspective middle-of-the-night vibe add up to a powerfully atmospheric set that's subtly otherworldly and absorbing. It's interesting how well the shadowy personality of the music blends with Anne's songs; on the surface, they're smart and well crafted, dealing with the traditional themes of love and its absence, but producers Sam Outlaw and Kelly Winrich have tapped into an undercurrent of sadness in the material, and even on the passionate "Run Away with Me" and defiant "If I Wanted Your Opinion," they make Desert Dove into something richer and more emotionally textured than it would be in the hands of others. However, the efforts of Outlaw and Winrich would be futile without an artist as talented as Michaela Anne up front, and here she's in excellent form, her vocals capable of expressing both strength and vulnerability without a drop of histrionics, and her lyrics are as smart as they are easily relatable, depicting everyday lives with uncommon accuracy and depth. Michaela Anne's apparent disinterest in the slick, hollow approach of most contemporary country would have identified Desert Dove as something different regardless of the production, but Outlaw and Winrich helped make this into a striking, satisfying collection of songs that confirms Anne's status as one of country's freshest and most interesting new talents. ~ Mark Deming