It's well known in certain Charlotte music circles that one of the best voices in town belongs to Reeve Coobs, familiar to most from her work with the folk oufit the Near Misses. Throughout her Misses' tenure, and as a part-time member of the indie outfit gogoPilot, Coobs' alto stood out for its clarity, power and range.
So when her debut LP, nine years in the making, opens with the waltz "Magic Show" and that voice is processed through effects, it's a clever shake-shit-up move and declaration that we aren't in simple folkie songwriter land anymore.
On these 14 tracks, Coobs surrounds herself with a crack band of locals to pull out the nuance in her songs or kick things into overdrive: Co-producer and gogoPilot leader Jeff Williams provides an array of electric guitar sonics, keyboardist Jason Atkins shades the songs in autumnal colors with organ or piano, and drummers Chris Walldorf and Jonathan Erickson, along with bassist Flavio Magione, deliver a variety of tight tempos from trad rock to twangy shuffles.
Coobs' vocals are still front-and-center, where they should be, donning many moods. She capably delivers the spit and vitriol in rocker "Let It Out" and wails the blues in "Hopeful Thought." But she's just as comfortable with the resignation of an unrequited lover in the Carole King-worthy "Goodbye" or the late-night reverie of "Night Owl," which features pedal steel passes from the late Rodney Lanier.
Coobs made a wise choice in tapping Williams as her co-conspirator. The duo creates bountiful textures that reveal more and more nuance with repeat listens, not unlike the work of, say, Jolie Holland. And, just as key, they've pulled it off without losing sight of the songwriters' vision, proving in the process that Coobs is more than just a pretty voice.