New country duo The Stellas met singing and playing guitars at a campfire, which has to be a classic Canadian romance. They're a cute couple, which is part of the appeal here, although they certainly have lots of talent too. MaryLynne has a lovely voice, and a retro feel, while husband Brad has perfect rockabilly hair. I kid a bit, but the visual imagery has been crafted as much as the music. Anyway, it should help them get a leg up capturing the public's attention with their debut disc.
Some of the material here has a bit of a old-time feel, not the twangy or maudlin country, but more like the smooth 50's style, a touch of Les Paul and Mary Ford, some sophistication. MaryLynne handles most of the vocals, but Brad has a pass at a couple as well, and proves a strong duet partner. They are both writers, and don't seem to rely on the usual pros for co-writes, most come from their own pens, together or on their own. These are all good points to include, because despite the gloss and nice photography, there's something going on. Most of the songs are CMT-friendly, but every once in awhile, there's a little twist in there that suggests they are willing to mess with the formula a bit, throw a little artistic curveball in there to see if folks will follow along. The Game is a fast-tempo track that usually some decidedly non-country minor chords and harmonies, and Woe Is Me has a jazzy instrumental break-down in the middle, with a touch of banjo reggae! But it's just for a moment, nobody's getting carried away on this stuff. It's also nice to hear New Orleans piano in the track, too. You feel like you're being challenged instead of being pandered to. The live version of the old Everly Brothers staple Love Hurts is strong too, with Brad doing some non-typical harmonies on the Massey Hall stage. After all, it was their talent at duets that first won them fame on a CMT reality competion.