When former Capital Region resident Katie Haverly decamped for greener (?) pastures in Tucson, Ariz., she found something there besides a dry heat: She found a new band and a new direction.
Copper and Congress is more than merely a vehicle for Haverly. The musicians—featuring Corey Cottrell, Patrick Morris, and Kai Lindstedt, with able assistance from guests Jacob Valenzuela on trumpet and Joey Burns on cello—mesh organically on each cut, supporting Haverly’s passionate vocals with a subtle fire of their own. Looking at the band’s website, it appears that the group have undergone some personnel changes since this album’s release, making the documentation of this lineup all the more precious.
The Leap Year, Copper and Congress’ recording debut, features a more muscular sound than Haverly’s previous work. “Out of the Blue” features Patrick Morris’ sinewy bass, insinuating itself between strums from Haverly’s acoustic guitar. In the background, a vibraphone chimes and a muted trumpet snakes its way through the song’s chorus. “Better on the Page” is rhythmically rock-solid with a chunky mid-’90s alternative-rock vibe and some tasty fuzz guitar. Meanwhile, “Lucky” features a plaintive Sonny Boy Williamson-esque harp (that’s Sonny Boy II, aka Rice Miller, as opposed to John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson of Chicago for those playing along at home) and Morris’ vocal harmonies on the chorus.
Of course, Haverly’s voice is center stage: a husky whisper one minute, soaring majestically the next. Her music is clearly flourishing in the desert air. The band’s name is apt, their sound evoking the muted hues—reds, oranges, and browns—of the American Southwest. The Leap Year is an auspicious beginning for Copper and Congress.