Megan and Shane “Peaks and Valleys”

Independent, 2023

A pleasant and diverse album which has a lovely 70’s retro feel throughout.

Megan and Shane Album Artwork for 'Peaks and Valleys'Nashville americana duo Megan and Shane have released a pleasant album with a very 70’s radio-friendly vibe that at times is catchy and endearing but occasionally misfires with the odd song and arrangement that sits awkwardly among the very good tracks. It is produced by Grammy award producer Brandon Bell who has previously worked with Brandi Carlile and The Highway Women among others.

Highlights of the album include ‘Things Don’t Have to Change’, a song with a summer feel that would have been a hit in a pre-Spotify/internet/download age  – it acknowledges the pain and heartache and sets it free. ‘Rose Coloured Glasses’ is another stand-out, a duet which takes on the idea of preconceived notions, especially when it comes to homelessness.

‘Coast of California’ is sung by Shane, and you know it’ll work tremendously well live. So confident in this expectation are the duo however that they have stuck a horrible clap-a-long percussive part in the middle of the track. It should have been left alone. Yes do it in concert, and let everyone clap along but here it spoils a perfectly decent studio recording and song. The guitar riff sound does not help either. On ‘Lasso’ the baritone guitar comes out for a little bit of Tarantino/Mexican/spaghetti western feel which works very well. ‘Blue on Blue’ takes us all to a barn dance with an enjoyable catchy hook line and fiddle accompaniment.

‘Mamma Raised Hell’ is the grittiest moment on the record and works very well with its Eagles-style guitar and backing. In contrast,  ‘Magic Rocks’, described as a “psychedelic country standout”, sits uncomfortably in this otherwise fine set of songs. Spoken verses and a delivery that borders on a rant at times, it should be commended for pushing the envelope but here it stands out as a little bit over the top given the sweetness and vibe elsewhere. 

Overall, a sound album that would fit very comfortably into anyone’s collection of loved retro americana music.

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