• Review

Album Review: The Montvales - Born Strangers

Dynamic vocal melodies, intertwined with the heart and soul of country-folk music, Born Strangers by the duo The Montvales, embarks listeners on a captivating journey with rich storytelling. The Montvales consist of Sally Buice on banjo/vocals and Molly Rochelson on guitar/vocals.

“The album draws from an unpredictable mix of genres, and I hope there’s something in there for all sorts of folks,” said Buice. “It’s a very place-based album with a lot of Tennessee, a little of my time working on a ranch in southern Colorado, and a little of our transition to Cincinnati. I hope folks from those places can hear some of home in it.”

From the very beginning, the track titled “Women Of God,” sets the tone of the album with its lush harmonies and spirited instrumentation. I was blown away by how the duo showcased their talent in each song.

“Sally and I met as kids growing up in Knoxville, TN,” said Rochelson. “Music was a natural extension of our friendship from the very beginning, at first just trading mixes and going to see shows, then beginning to write songs and busk downtown together when we were around seventeen.”

As the album progresses, each song has a unique ability to infuse traditional country folk elements with modern flair.

“This album was written over about three years, so it’s kind of the product of a giant soup of musical influences from across that time,” said Rochelson. “I guess mostly a lot of 2000’s alt-country/folk. I think it came out sounding very Nashville, in a way I really adore. We made this at Sean Sullivan’s Tractor Shed studio in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, right outside of Nashville.”

Once I got done listening to this album on repeat for several hours, I concluded that Born Strangers is an album that I will put down as one of my favorite albums I have listened to in the last several years.

“My favorite song on the album is the last track and one that Sally wrote titled, “Through the Night.” We’re grappling with a lot of heavy stuff throughout this record, and I think it’s the perfect send-off, really vulnerable, but really resolute and powerful,” said Rochelson.

“I think I just hope that it can be a good companion to other folks trying to find their way through this rollercoaster of a decade.”

“Echoing Molly’s sentiment here, we get pretty vulnerable in this album, and I hope the honesty offers company and comfort to anybody who’s feeling alone in navigating their life around this wildly uncertain time,” said Buice.