If there is a sweeter sound than Cielle Montgomery and James Church singing together, it would be very hard to find. This duo – whose debut album, In the Shadow of the Mountain, was nominated for two Golden Guitars – sound like they were made to make music together, although, of course, the ease implied in that statement only comes about from perseverance and practice and the patience required to sort out what works and what doesn’t. In other words: just because their new album, Where the Quiet Can Hide, sounds like a dream, that doesn’t mean it appeared as if by magic. There is craft and care in each song, and Montgomery Church pay a great compliment to their listeners by giving us an album that has been so lovingly created.
From the opening track, ‘Out in the Field’, we enter a musical landscape that also conjures physical landscapes, including that of the the Snowy Mountains, NSW/Ngarigo country, which is home to Montgomery Church. The songs also tell us the stories of characters, sometimes with a sideways glance (‘Louise’) and sometimes with a heart breaking (‘The Cowboy Song’). There is one instrumental track, ‘Little William Brown’, which demonstrate that as powerful as their voices are, Montgomery Church are just as expressive with their chosen instruments, dobro and guitar.
Where the Quiet Can Hide was produced by seven-time Grammy-nominated producer and engineer Erick Jaskowiak and features Grammy-winning fiddle player Michael Cleveland, as well as Paddy Montgomery (mandolin), Isaac Gunnoo (double bass), Rachel Johnston (cello), Gabi Blissett (fiddle and strings) and Syd Green (percussion). The production of each track is so clean and crisp that each instrument shines while also not overshadowing another; it suggests that the respect the artists show their audience derives originally from the respect they show each other and their songs.
Playing this album feels like walking into a world that is familiar enough that you can get its bearings but which has colours and layers, sounds and sensations, that are brought to it entirely by Montgomery Church. In this world both the beauty and struggles of life are acknowledged, and this music offered as a way of understanding both. In this way Where the Quiet Can Hide is both terrestrial and celestial, anchoring us here in the present while showing us the glory of everything around us, out into the universe. It’s a glorious piece of work, and you will not want to stop listening to it.
Buy the album at https://montgomerychurch.bandcamp.com