Zach Rogue and Courtney Jaye express themselves just fine on their debut, sprinkling “Pent Up” with a little indie dust over a graceful mix of pop, country and folk.
Rogue has released a handful of albums with San Francisco band Rogue Wave since 2003, from near-solo lo-fi to more polished efforts. Jaye has also recorded a few albums while making stops everywhere from Georgia and Hawaii to Tennessee and southern California.
Their songwriting partnership began in Los Angeles in 2013, though “Pent Up” was made at Nashville’s Fleetwood Shack studios.
Jaye’s voice combines shades of Stevie Nicks’ earthy tones with the piercing velvetiness of Natalie Maines and it’s skillfully complemented by Rogue’s own expressive yet economical vocals and layers of guitars.
“Golden Lady,” a possible Nicks tribute, has a riff and beat echoing Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” and features Jaye’s voice at its most soaring. On the gentle “Forces of Decay,” one of the best songs here, the pair’s harmonies slide gently over fingerpicked guitars and dry percussion.
Rogue’s singing comes to the fore on “Little Relief,” while “Til It Fades,” the first tune they wrote together, also finds them harmonizing and makes it easy to understand why they decided to continue the partnership.
“Spider and Fly” returns to folkier territory and “Claws” closes the record with Jaye’s voice sounding as if through a filter of crystals and underpinned by Rogue’s ghostly backing.
Rogue + Jaye don’t sound repressed, inhibited or confined on “Pent Up,” a winning release inhabited by confident songwriting. Pablo Gorondi, AP