Gal Holiday, “Lost & Found” (HTRP Music)

gal holidayThere’s a slight rebranding here, with the artist formerly known as Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue now simply billed as Gal Holiday. It’s an artistic shift, and other than the sultry pipes of founding vocalist Vanessa Niemann, it’s an entirely new band. Jimbo Mathus of Squirrel Nut Zippers fame produced the proceedings, bringing in an independent ear and an infusion of new ideas, besides contributing two originals. It’s also Gal Holiday’s most collaborative effort to date, with the bulk of the songs written or co-written by Niemann and drummer Rose Cangelosi.

Other than the peppier reworking of “The Bottle and the Booze” that’s predicated on Matt Slusher’s Duane Eddy–like guitar tones, there’s less honky-tonk twang than on previous efforts. Yet there’s a wider diversity of the material, like swamp popper “Treat You Better,” twisty tuneful rocker “Let’s Run Away” and the Latin-spiced “Come Home.”

There are still elements of country, such as Cangelosi’s “Desert Disco,” a cross between sci-fi and a spaghetti western soundtrack, which really is just a space-traveling motif for escaping reality. Equally intriguing is Cangelosi’s “Ain’t Gonna Buy My Ring,” which is essentially a young woman’s lament—a strong, loving woman drawing the line at buying her own wedding ring despite fully supporting her partner.

The disc’s title could be interpreted as love lost and love found but moreover it’s a statement of the band’s state of being—once lost before regrouping to find its new path that’s now well-illuminated.