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Quick Hit: Lac La Belle

Last updated on January 6, 2022

Lac La Belle is a folk/bluegrass duo from Michigan that sounds like they’re from Appalachia. Banjo, chop-strumming mandolin and guitar all feature in Bring on the Light, which mixes traditional instruments, sounds and rhythms with a vocal directness that comes from pop songs and modern folk bands like the Avett Brothers and Noah and the Whale.

But Lac La Belle is not so easily pinned down. Their female vocalist has an amazing set of pipes that got her crowned 2000 Hollerin’ Champion of Wise Co., Virginia and Letcher Co., Kentucky. You can hear her go for it in “A Fine Line” and “Autumn Song,” the latter of which may actually be too much of a good thing.

But that’s about the only element of the album for which that can be said, as Lac La Belle mixes up moods consistently. Cheery? Go for “Around the World.” Calm? Call up “New Memories of Oklahoma.” Feeling sinister? “Novocaine” has your back. Pensive? “A Fine Line.” Want more evidence? Those are the first four songs.

The album does have a few missteps (“I am a Hammer” is way repetitive), but on the whole, this is a really enjoyable album of bluegrass/folk. It isn’t a heavy album by any means (you can put it on and read just fine, as I have done!), but it does have subtle beauty (“To the Sun”: accordion!!!) to be uncovered if you give it attention. Bring on the Light, indeed.