Under the moniker John Michigan, Nadia Pacey delivers a collection of originals and covers perfectly suited for her naturally soulful voice.
“Roy,” a track from Deux Trois’s underrated 2018 debut (not by us,obviously, but still), always struck me as an eerily timeless tune, some lost late-50s AM radio love ballad. Tender, to the point, simple and convincing. I considered singing it to my wife on our wedding day (thankfully for everyone in attendance, I thought better of that idea!). Nadia Pacey, Deux Trois’ leader, has this naturally soulful voice that is not put on or affected; it is all at once quiet, loud, raspy and smooth, so obviously her. And she is so obviously okay with being real on record. “Let me give you a little bit of heaven, since that’s what I get from you daily,” goes the chorus. You can imagine Judy Garland singing this song if it weren’t for the intense restraint that is audible from the Telecaster supporting her.
Pacey brings this dusty yet priceless energy to her new collection under her John Michigan moniker, Songs For Long Rains. The collection features four covers and four original. However, if you didn’t know any better, you might think you’re listening to a covers album by someone with impeccable and obscure taste. The covers are all perfectly suited for Pacey’s style. The Cranberries “Linger” — a song with big, timeless energy — sounds at home in this stripped-down setting. Try not to be enraptured by her take on Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou” and charmed by her “You Are My Sunshine”. Pacey’s take on Lucinda Williams’ much–covered “Fruits of My Labor” stands up with the best of them.
The real treats, however, are Pacey’s originals. “Carol,” with its gorgeous layered harmonies and optimism, in particular, stands out. Again, I had to double and triple-check that this was not one of the covers. Closing track “This Afternoon” also hits like a classic. “This afternoon, the man that I love is getting married to a woman I don’t recognize,” sing a chorus of Paceys on a classic, tragic tale so moving in its earnestness and simplicity. Song For Long Rains has a crackle that runs under the entire record and sounds even better with rain tapping on the window. In her band, Pacey rocks with the best of them, but she is best at getting at emotions and feelings that came before and will last longer than any genre or any of us: heartbreak, the blues, longing and love.