“Angela Desveaux reconciles the bluer-than-blue tone of old-time country with the sun-kissed pastels of classic California rock – pulling off that alchemical fusion with a guileless grace seldom seen among more doctrinaire alt-country troops.” - Harp
Angela was born near Montreal, but grew up in her family's home of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Cape Breton is an island made up of small fishing towns and mountains, with a rich musical tradition close to that of Ireland but with a strong French influence. In addition to the rich musical environment of Cape Breton, Angela’s parents were big pop country fans so she grew up surrounded by the likes of Hank Williams, George Jones, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. Although she has been living and playing in Montreal for the last few years, those maritime stories of loss and death and those classic country tales of wrong doers and wrong doing continue to haunt and inspire Desveaux. The Mighty Ship borrows its title from a traditional folk ballad about the Titanic, but it also refers to Desveaux's Grandmother, with whom she is very close and who sadly lost her first husband at sea.
When Angela moved back to Montreal, she got her start playing in country and bluegrass bands singing backing or lead vocals, and playing a bit of guitar. She was quietly writing songs and meeting a wide array of country musicians. It was in 2005 when she met Howard Bilerman, producer and drummer of the Arcade Fire. He was blown away by her voice and her songwriting and took her under his wing, introducing her to a whole new crop of musicians. With a bit of help, Angela got her band together and Howard began recording her debut 2006's Wandering Eyes. The results were songs that combined elements of a contemporary rock band sound with pedal steel and other instruments that underscored her country leanings.
“Wandering Eyes manages to stand out among the constant stream of alt-country records with similar pedigrees… these songs are so fleshy and real that it’s a simmering triumph.” – Magnet
The band remains primarily guitarist Mike Feuerstack (Snailhouse, Wooden Stars), bassist Eric Digras and drummer Gilles Castilloux. Angela spent months on the road in Canada, the US and Europe, touring with artists ranging from folk to indie-rock including Bruce Cockburn, Archer Prewitt, Califone and Howe Gelb. Through it all, Angela grew confident in her role as bandleader. Her confidence and the cohesiveness of a well-toured band are both very apparent on The Mighty Ship. It is a bold step forward for her: the song writing is assured and, as always, her remarkable voice and range takes center stage.
"For me, real country music focuses on the storytelling," says Desveaux. With her newly developed confidence as a songwriter and bandleader, the stories she tells on The Mighty Ship are ones of strength in the face of adversity, including the story of her grandmother on the album’s title track, a young girl struggling to define herself on “For Design,” and her own self-affirmation on “Red Alert.” Desveaux and her band recorded the album at Castilloux's Treatment Room studio in their Montreal neighborhood. She asked Dave Draves to handle the recording, struck by the clarity of sound on his recordings for Wooden Stars, Kathleen Edwards and Howe Gelb's 'Sno Angel Like You. Songs are decorated with her beloved country flavors of pedal steel, piano and viola, but new to the mix are flourishes of horns, and a bolder interaction between rhythm and lead guitar. Also striking are Angela’s vocal harmonies with Feuerstack, whose voice is familiar to many from his Juno Award-winning work in Wooden Stars.
While on Wandering Eyes Desveaux claimed the influence of great women of country music like Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams, she now points to Chrissy Hynde, Wayne Coyne and Neil Young as sources of inspiration. These bolder rock influences are apparent on The Mighty Ship in her lead vocal choices and her guitar playing, as well as her arrangements. These bolder influences compliment Angela Desveaux’s strong sense of melody, her incredible voice and her abilities as a storyteller. The Mighty Ship. Mighty Indeed!