“I’m gonna believe in love today,” Angie Stevens sings on the title track of Queen of This Mess. The eleven songs on her third release share stories from a life riddled with mistakes, triumphs, loves and losses by combining alt-country lyrics and an indie pop edge.
Like Iris Dement or Nanci Griffith, the singer-songwriter’s vocals move from slightly scratchy to sweet and gentle. Varied instrumentation (slide guitar, viola, accordion) and production by Malcolm Burn (Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin) help keep the album away from the realm of coffeehouse folk.
Some tunes (This Time Around and Give It On Back) jump with hand-clap-friendly percussion tracks and fun refrains.
Others are raw and truthful like Accidentally Smiling and The River while Drinking Song appropriately begs to be played in a bar.
And the harmonic chemistry created with Seth and Josh Larson on Anything is a throwback to the great county duets such as Tammy Wynette and George Jones or Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn.
Also featured on the album are Angie’s band, The Beautiful Wreck (Susan Phelan, Jon Wirtz, Carlos Newman) and Jen Gilleran, Kailin Yong and Jim Dalton of the Railbenders.