The Whiskey Charmers – “On The Run” – review by Ken Capobianco, Boston Globe freelancer and veteran music critic – Dec 5th 2022
“On the Run is a sharply executed and evocative set of Americana rock filled with superbly arranged songs about the struggle to find connections, a sense of home, and a center in a ghost town of a world. Carrie Shepard is a smart songwriter with a keen eye for emotional details and hints of melancholy and yearning in her voice. Fine guitarist Lawrence Daversa punctuates and powers the songs with taut, lucid leads that serve the songs instead of overwhelming them. With a solid rhythm section anchoring things, The Whiskey Charmers have delivered a confident, cohesive record that should place them on the map of Americana rock and bring new listeners to the fold.” – Ken Capobianco, Boston Globe freelancer and veteran music critic.
Detroit alt-country roots rockers The Whiskey Charmers bring us on a thoroughly enjoyable road trip across the gamut of Americana on their third self-produced release. The core of the band is made up of Carrie Shepard (vocals and acoustic guitar) and her partner Lawrence Daversa (electric guitar and harmony vocals). Shepard, as well as being the possessor of a powerful rich voice, writes all the material. Daversa’s twangy and incisive electric guitar, at times rockabilly, at times classic country, plays like a second voice and punctuates her vocals to great effect. The third weapon in the band is drummer Brian Ferriby, whose powerhouse playing contributes effectively to the overall atmosphere, whether that be gothic country, blues or rockabilly. Bass duties fall to either David Roof or Wolf.
Galaxy finds us in outer space, exploring loneliness and solitude, while the very funny Super 8 is an advert for cheap motel living, with the immortal line ‘And if I wake up feelin’ awful, I might just make myself a waffle’. The cliched storyline of the outlaw running out on his woman is turned on its head in the outstanding Crossfire, where she eventually rides off into the sunset without him, to the sounds of a memorable searing guitar solo from Daversa. Shepard has her ‘boots on the dash’ in Tumbleweed and similarly doesn’t leave any doubt as to her intentions in Dirty Pictures.
This third album should expose The Whiskey Charmers to the wider audience that they deserve. Long may they ride the range.
Review by Eilís Boland
“Detroit band the Whiskey Charmers play dark Americana. Their 2015 debut album explored a Nashvllle gothic sound; their 2018 follow-up was a shift to brooding desert rock. Their latest album Lost on the Range – streaming at Bandcamp – is their hardest-rocking and most diverse release yet, and arguably their best. Frontwoman/guitarist Carrie Shepard has never sung more powerfully than she does here”
“Sticking to that classic Western feel, The Whiskey Charmers third full-length album, “Lost On The Range,” represents alt-country and spaghetti Western music done right. The latest work from the Detroit-based band led by Carrie Shepard and Lawrence Daversa not only makes the listener feel like a total badass with its assortment of cowboy-esque tracks but also brings the listener to a world filled with the monsters of one’s deepest fears. The Whiskey Charmers’ previous release, 2017’s “The Valley,” won a Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Country Recording, so this latest installment builds on that impressive discography.”
“Their refreshing 10-track cinematic road trip serves as the ideal soundtrack for a vintage-like spaghetti western directed and musically curated by David Lynch. During Range, The Whiskey Charmers embark on several introspective journeys while tumbleweeds blow past, wildfires burn and classic country guitar tones reverberate in the distance…Together, they seamlessly blend scorching retro Americana, folk and rockabilly into timeless tales of love, revenge and self-discovery amidst vast, barren fields rolling in the mind’s eye. Their Range adventure begins amidst blazing struggles and deep space odysseys.”
The Whiskey Charmers-Lost on the Range – Ideas Adrift by Jeff Milo March 27, 2020
“The natural world as an engine for Shepard’s inspiration carries forth onto this album. There’s a sense of elemental combustion, of elements in orbit, of the give and take between the electromagnetic spectrum and an absence of iridescence. The same way that Shepard’s lyrics suggest a sense of seeking and traveling, Daversa is in his own unique dialogue with the material, mostly by responding to the themes and emotions by way of the expressions of his guitar, often demonstrably through his eloquent solos, but also in the augmented atmosphere of his accompanying twangs and riffs, like wings for Shepards’ words.
“A drum roll and some twangy plucked guitar chords opens up `Fire and Flame` as Carrie`s sultry vocals join in and give this number a real edgy feel…The vocals are so emotionally expressive that I found myself almost hypnotised. The addition of a glockenspiel, alongside Carrie and Lawrence`s harmonies is a joy to behold and does give this piece an otherworldly feel. A delightful guitar segment closes the song out.The guitar intro and finger clicks to `Super 8` initially had me thinking of Roger Miller`s classic `King Of The Road` before the song becomes a more mid paced offering. I have to say I loved the end rhymes of some of the lyrics such as “And if I wake up feeling awful, I’ll just make myself a waffle, Yeah you know I might be liable, to start reading up the bible.” and later “if we need a brand-new hobby, we`ll just hang out in the lobby, see what we could be doing, horseback riding or canoeing” we get some intricate guitar riffs and some almost brushed drums throughout which also adds to the pleasure of this track, seemingly about the joys of staying at the world’s largest budget hotel chain.
“The Valley is the sophomore album from Detroit band The Whiskey Charmers. The eleven tracks flawlessly blend blues rock, alt-country and folk rock into a masterful album that is sultry, swinging, heavy when it should be and intimate at all times. This is a band unafraid to show their grasp of somewhat arcane styles, by dragging them into a modern interpretation that works from start to finish. Highlighted by strong vocals and musicianship, this album is a must have. Stream and buy The Valley at the following link.” – Floorshime Zipper Boots – 10/5/2017
“They have been described as country noir, outlaw, and roots, however, they prefer to describe themselves as Ameripolitan; the term coined by Dale Watson, that covers all those styles that aren’t mainstream country and which has its own annual award ceremony. Ray ‘Can you open a window?’ Benson from Asleep At The Wheel presented last year’s Ameripolitan gongs. It’s quite likely that The Valley might garner one such, this year.
The Whiskey Charmers first, critically acclaimed and eponymously named album was recorded live over 11 hours; The Valley took them 14 months. This time around they decided to track the album so they could experiment and add some overdubs. It was a very good decision. The production is excellent. They have produced a set of superbly crafted songs that run the gamut from doom, despair and insecurity to coquettish seduction, written mainly by Carrie along with breath-taking guitar work by Lawrence…” – Muff Fitzgerald, Americana UK – 9/1/2017
“You know, writing reviews can sometimes be a chore, the occasional five-song EP hard to get through, but The Valley left me wanting more. In fact, the ender (“Warnings”) has me stopped in my tracks. It is reminiscent of a song I have heard many times and holds a very special place in my heart but I’ll be damned if I can remember who did it. What I do remember is that it had a major impact on me when I heard it and that I played the hell out of it for a long time. No worries. It will come to me and “Warnings” will suffice for now, but, damn, I wish I could remember. If only to compare what I consider excellent tunes.” – Frank Gutch Jr, No Depression – August 24, 2017
“…Dark country band the Whiskey Charmers made a big splash with their 2015 debut album. Their new one, The Valley – streaming at Bandcamp – takes their Lynchian twang and shuffle and raises the energy: this is much more of a blue-flame electric rock record…. “Been looking for you lately on my lawn…been looking for you in the back of my car,” Shepard muses in the swaying, melancholy Red Wine. The album’s most epic track is Coal, a majestically gloomy, metaphorically bristling anthem that could be the Dream Syndicate at their countriest, capped off by a searing, careening Daversa solo. The album winds up with Warnings, an Americana-pop song in Halloween disguise. You have been warned: this band is going places. Catch them now before it costs you big bucks at a venue like Bowery Ballroom.” – The New York Music Daily, August 18, 2017
“This is their second album and to my ears, whilst their debut was excellent, this recording leaves it a little in the shade, having pretty much defined their style on this album that has the subtlety of artists such as the Cowboy Junkies but with greater depth, textures and variety. The band consists of Carrie Shepard, who handles all lead vocals and acoustic guitar and Lawrence Daversa who plays electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitar and harmony vocals and shows incredible restraint in his inventive guitar playing, knowing that less notes often equate to more in creating an atmosphere of great depth and quality….Just two albums in to their recording career and I genuinely list the Whiskey Charmers as one of my favourite 21st century bands.” – Mike Morrison, American Roots UK 8.15.17
(Translated from Dutch)
“The voice of singer Carrie Shepard, in some songs, reminds of “Cowboy Junkies” front lady Margot Timmons, among others in opening track “Desert”, the magnificent country ballad “Meet Me There” (see video), “Fireproof”, “Songbird” And our favorite songs “Red Wine” and the “Warnings” featured by Lawrence Daversa on guitars…
This new CD of The Whiskey Charmers is a confirmation of all the good we expected from the duo after the release of their titled debut album two years ago. Carrie Shepard’s capacity as a songwriter grows over the years, and vocals are also gaining momentum from the corner. We therefore suspect that in the near future we will be able to welcome a lot more beautiful music from The Whiskey Charmers.” – Rootstime.Be – 07/05/2017
“Together with a selection of players they deliver a solid slice of Americana. From their base in Detroit they dispense their desert tones that sounds like they might orientate closer to the Mexican rather than the Canadian border. Indeed, the opening song is called Desert. They produced the album themselves (their second) and it a concise, clear sound that is centered around Daversa’s guitar and Shepard’s voice, both of which are compelling elements of the Whiskey Charmers appeal. Daversa bring different guitar sounds to the songs as appropriate but in each case, underlines his importance to defining their music. Equally Shepard has a vocal dexterity that allows her voice a certain enduring smokey whiskey charm….”
“Overall there is an air of brooding restraint and darkness to the songs that set an overall mood to the album that is suitable to some late night noir listening. As with a lot of Americana albums the overall direction here provides nothing that is outside of the parameters of such a wide-ranging form. Rather its appeal is in its execution and the strength of the songs themselves. All the elements here are blended to produce an album of lasting quality. One to be shared.” – Lonesome Highway 6/19/17
The Whiskey Charmers serve up another round of their signature “Country Noir” on their second studio release, The Valley. Picking up where they left off, the Charmers create a moody, atmospheric soundscape that plays like the soundtrack to a film noir/spaghetti western mashup. Simultaneously foreboding and alluring, The Whiskey Charmers music is as tempting as forbidden fruit. – Brian Rock, TJ Music – June 9th, 2017
“Waking up this past Sunday morning and starting my day with this wonderfully mellow country album was a serious treat. The Whiskey Charmers new record The Valley is the sophomore album for the Detroit-based group, led by Carrie Shepard and Lawrence Daversa. Many fans compare this group’s sound to a top-down ride through the desert, but with a heavy dose of 2-and-4 accents and some variety in the gait, I found it to be more of a gallop through the Wild West.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not), the first track off this album is entitled “Desert,” which offers an immediate introduction into the style of the entire record – sweet female vocals with support male harmonies in all parts of the song, not just the chorus. Contrast that with the rocking percussive intro to the title track, The Valley, and you know things have yet to settle.” Rainbow Exotic Music – May 30, 2017
“The Whiskey Charmers are sending shadows back into the murky swamp as they make a stand on the title track from the recent release, The Valley. The Detroit, Michgan-based band pound out a warning to the hidden menace creeping up “The Valley” on their second album release.” – Alternate Root Magazine 4/15/17
“For a touch of expansive escapism there is no finer place to transport your mind than in the world of The Whiskey Charmers. In a dreamy haze of romanticised roaming THE VALLEY leads you on a mystical journey that frees suburbanites from any remnants of mundane reality. This is the duo’s brand new album and is a highly anticipated follow up to their self-titled debut release in 2015. The Whiskey Charmers have a core line up of Carrie Shepard and Lawrence Daversa, hail from Detroit Michigan and are the key architects of a record successful in luring any mind wandering admirer of Americana music.” – Three Chords and the Truth UK – April 12, 2017
“The Valley is a keeper for sure. I know, there have been a lot of keepers this year. Don’t blame me because this has been a banner year for Americana and roots music so far. We are the beneficiaries of all this talent. Put The Whiskey Charmers on the list.” – Twangri-La 4/14/17
“The Valley is thoughtful, energetic, and improves on their thoughtful and well-crafted genre exercises. (It’s better recorded too, as the band will tell you themselves). When Metro Times last spoke to the Charmers last year, it was to spread word about their crowdfunding efforts to fund the release of the album. That didn’t go quite as planned, so let’s pick up where we left off.” – Daniel Siwka,
Detroit Metro Times 4/12/17
Based out of Detroit, Shepard and lead guitar/lap steel player Lawrence Daversa had released their debut self-produced, self-titled album in 2015 are one of their city’s new musical darlings. Currently writing for their second album to be released this spring, tonight’s show included Ozzie Andrews on bass and Jim Faulkner on drums giving the live performance a little extra kick. The band opened with “Phonograph” and “Red Wine” having Andrews on banjo bass before going to a traditional electric. The chemistry of Shepard’s vocals mixed with Daversa’s twangy guitar chords and solos sounded wonderful during their eleven song set which included “Songbird”, “Rollercoaster”, “Melody” and “Coal”. Highlights included the redemption song “Straight and Narrow” and the closing number “Sidewinder” about a rattlesnake which began with Shepard’s acoustic guitar before exploding with the full band. Keep an eye on these two as their stock may rise come 2017. – Jay Minkin, No Depression – Sept 22, 2016
“Detroit based duo The Whiskey Charmers have a modish Country and Western vibe complete with interesting rhythms and slightly dark lyrics delivered by the smoky vocals of Carrie Shepard. This is complemented by the atmospheric lead guitars of Lawrence Daversa to give the album a slight rock and blues edge, making for an interesting listen throughout the nine tracks of their self-titled debut album.” – Modern Rock Review, February 11th, 2016
““Many of the songs have a sound that could easily transcend genres and bring The Whiskey Charmers wider success. “Straight & Narrow” is a delightful song which has a real laid back, Americana feel to it. It’s a similar story with the more upbeat sounding “Can’t Leave”. Songs like “Sidewinder” and “Parlor lights” have a wider landscape feel to them. They’re brooding, dark songs with a more epic feel to them. They have you imagining being in a late night bar, probably drinking away your sorrows.”- The Soul of a Clown, December 4th, 2015.
“Smooth and dark, like whiskey itself, Shepard and Daversa combine bluesy guitar riffs with subdued harmonies and a bit of an old fashioned soul. “Vampire” is mysterious with just the right amount of menace, and “Neon Motel Room” is mischievous and bright. Shepard’s vocals are so complemented by Daversa’s fiery electric guitar playing, adding a haunting dimension to something that might otherwise be light and pretty. – Maeri Ferguson, The Horn – October 8, 2015
“As we all know, it’s so rare to find great Americana these days, let alone great roots-based non-garage music in Detroit. The Whiskey Charmers bring a surprising amount of heart to what they do, paving their own authentic path along the way. “- Melina Glusac, Detroit Metro Times – September 30 2015
“Carrie Shepard of THE WHISKEY CHARMERS has a voice of silk and steel that invites you into their world of heartache and whiskey. Lawrence Daversa’s guitar sends electric pulses up your spine; shocks and tingles. The best country noir duo since The Handsome Family. An evocative self-titled debut; check out the spooky ‘Sidewinder’.”- R2 (Rock n Reel) Magazine – September 2015
“Frontwoman/guitarist Carrie Shepard has a strong yet soft and utterly enigmatic voice. While she doesn’t sound anything like Tammy Wynette, she’s coming from the same place emotionally, world-weary beyond her years, keeping her cards close to her vest. Guitarist Lawrence Daversa plays with edge and bite and a very distinctive sense of melody which manages to be counterintuitive to the extreme yet wickedly tuneful – he always leaves you guessing what’s coming around the bend, and it always ends up working out.”- New York Music Daily – 8/17/15
“If you were wondering where the roots and grit of country music had gone, you’ll find it in this album. There is a fulfilling darkness and aching quality about this record that falls in line with the genre at its best.” – Vickye Fisher, For the Country Record 8/11/15
“For the second time this year, we’ve got a fantastic album from an alt-country act out of Detroit (Whitey Morgan was the other). I don’t think The Whiskey Charmers could produce a much better debut album than this. Carrie Shepard is a very talented vocalist who could sing pretty much whatever she wants, while Lawrence Daversa dazzles me with his guitar play. It’s makes for a perfect combination. These two were made to make music with each other. ” – Country Perspective – July 11, 2015
“The vocals of Carrie Shepard cut at you like a swiping switch-blade, yet rock you to sleep at the same time. The cutting guitar riffage from Lawrence Daversa walks you down a foggy beach only to find a bloody plane crash at its reaches. You feel the pain. You want to feel the pain. The pain has you flipping the record over and over so you can get at more of it.” – Rock and Roll Junkie – July 3, 2015
“I love the imagery presented in “Neon Motel Room”. I love the ambiance of those red and blue lights, the idea of sitting in the half dark on a bed with someone who you don’t know too well, but you are ready to go places with them, to head down the highway toward who knows where.” – Kate Bee, Ear to the Ground Music – June 16, 2015
“I find Gentleman Jack to be a rather smooth talking soul mate. So I took my first shot of Jack, picked up my acoustic guitar, and quickly experienced the similarities between he the duo singing the first song, Elevator from their self-titled album. Carrie’s vocals and the smooth guitar of Lawrence rolled over my earbuds like the aged taste of Gentleman Jack on my taste buds. I could tell this little party was going to be an engaging one.” – Bob Crabtree, Digital Earbuds 6/6/2015
“The Whiskey Charmers more than live up to their name on their March 7th self-titled release. The collection of songs, all penned by vocalist Carrie Shepard, except for “C Blues” which she wrote with guitarist Lawrence Daversa, are quite enthralling. Daversa’s mood setting, and skilled, guitar playing alongside Shepard’s quite captivating vocals are a successful pairing whether on the folky “Neon Motel Room,” the bluesy “C Blues” or rootsy “Can’t Leave.” – The Daily Country 6/1/2015
“The duo of Carrie Shepard and Lawrence Daversa guide the band’s direction which leaves a trail of impurity free groove in its wake. Catch yourself in the headlights of their enticing tunes and total absorption is impossible to avoid. Whether it’s the glorious sultry vocals of Carrie snaking around the hazy songs that ache with magnetic appeal, or Lawrence’s driving lead guitar decorating each track, this album runs on a full tank throughout its 38 minute journey”.- Three Chords and The Truth UK 5/6/15
“Carrie Shepard’s torch singer voice is absolutely enchanting, and the rest of the Charmers create a brilliant Country-Jazz fusion that evokes another time and place where the men wear dark suits and femme fatales pack more heat than a loaded gun. The overall effect of The Whiskey Charmers is, well, intoxicating.” – Turnstyled Junkpiled 5/6/15
“This is a tremendous debut album by a Detroit, Michigan based trio who bring a new slant to the normal clichéd view of the music that comes from that area, with nine tremendous songs of what is becoming known as ‘country gothic.’ The drumming is far more than just a foundation on this sparse haunting album of great beauty with the gorgeous guitar sounds of Lawrence Daversa and the stunning beauty of Carrie Shepard’s vocals on these mainly Shepard penned songs of loss, despair and tragedy. To use an oversimplification, if you like the Cowboy Junkies and Rachel Brooke, there is every likelihood you will love this gorgeous album.” – Americana Roots UK- 4/9/15
“The moment the first song on the album, Elevator, started playing, I fell in love. I was captivated for every single note of the nine songs on the album. They had me in the palm of their hand.” – Elizabeta Golubkov, Montreal Rampage – 4/16/15
Carrie Shepard has a voice you’d leave your wife and eleven children for in a heartbeat. The tone of it is like a short of Jack Daniels drunk slowly and neat: warm the whole way down, before it shoots back up your spine to the pleasure centre of your brain, followed by a dark, liquid caramel chaser. She had me from the first note of Elevator to the last bar of Waltz. I’d drop everything and book a flight to Michigan just to become a full-time stalker if I knew it included a dental plan.
The guitar is at its haunting best in Vampire, an account of a sordid night with a deathly white stranger and the creeping hypnosis that gets you caught up in that sort of thing. Lawrence Daversa plays the blues along every nerve of your body, plucking, sliding, and vibrato-ing to a tingling climax – before you ask, yes, it feels odd to say that about another man, but the music is just inescapably sexy when combined with Carrie’s sultry voice. It takes two to tango, and this proves that, just maybe, that platitude can stretch across more than just dance and euphemism. – Jonathan Monahan, Puremzine – March 8th, 2015
Review in Country Music People UK, March 2015 Issue
“The Whiskey Charmers are from Detroit but you’d think it would be more likely be Arizona.Formed in 2013, they say their music is hard to classify and they’re not kidding. Not what you’d traditionally call country, and certainly not traditional country, rather it is a blend of Chris Isaak and early Calexico that is strong on laid-back South-western rhythms, with an eerie and sexy quality that quickly got under my skin.” – Duncan Warwick, Country Music People, March 2015 Issue
Read the full article here
(Translated from Russian)
“The Whiskey Charmers just might have the most appropriate name ever. For starters, the band plays a brand of country, folk, and Americana that’s perfectly suited to dimly lit whiskey bars, where a few shots of fire will help get you in the right frame of mind. And the trio will charm the pants off you with their moody aesthetics and clever wordplay. Two big reasons this band — which formed last year — is starting to gain some traction is that they march to the beat of their own creative drum, and they don’t pull any punches.” – Brian Palmer, Metrotimes 11/12/14
Much like fellow locals the Blueflowers, the Whiskey Charmers play poetic, mildly gothic folk rock. Daversa is skilled at allowing his guitar to compliment Shepard’s vocals, rather than overriding it. It’s a less-is-more philosophy which serves the band well, and it allows the songs to breathe.- Brett Callwood, Metro Times
The Whiskey Charmers truly create the aural equivalent of crying into a tumbler filled with bourbon, bemoaning a lost love. There’s no ice added. – Brett Callwood, Metro Times