If you’re not familiar with “Ver-mericana,” you will be after listening to Miss Guided Angels. The Rutland-area band’s new album, “The One that Got Away,” is a rollicking mix of folk, bluegrass, country, blues and rockabilly steeped in the hills of Vermont. The band will celebrate the album’s release with a concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Brick Box at The Paramount Theatre in Rutland.
The band and album are the latest project from southern Vermont musician George Nostrand. (Nostrand is also events editor for the Rutland Herald and The Times Argus.) Having released two previous studio albums, he describes his latest effort as a departure.
“This is a whole different sound, which is kind of exciting,” Nostrand said during a recent interview with the band. “It’s a lot of fun to shift gears.”
Formed three years ago, the band, which takes its name from the Cowboy Junkies song “Misguided Angel,” features Nostrand on guitar, piano and vocals; Lisa Gardner on guitar and vocals; Bob Campbell on percussion, cajon and vocals; and Jimmy Kalb on fiddle.
The new album began as a solo project for Nostrand, but evolved as he pulled in the rest of the band to collaborate over the last year. The result is 10 songs, including two originals by Gardner and a cover of a song by Vergennes singer-songwriter Josh Brooks.
Nostrand, who persuaded Gardner to start gigging with him several years ago after playing with her at private get-togethers, called her an “incredibly gifted and witty” songwriter.
The album’s title track, “The One that Got Away,” is a Gardner composition. The song is a jaunty minor-key missive about regret and loss from the perspective of a character who hopes her absence haunts her former lover as much as it does her.
While the band didn’t compose the album with any themes explicitly in mind, Gardner noted that several began to emerge.
“There’s a lot of songs about feeling out of place and out of time and kind of longing for something else,” she said.
“We don’t do a lot of happy songs,” Nostrand joked.
“Happy songs are annoying,” Gardner replied.
“That’s folk music,” Campbell interjected.
True to that folk tradition, all the songs on the album tell a story. Taken together, it plays like a collection of short stories set to music.
The Nostrand composition, “Griswold Drive,” about the road in Bellows Falls where he grew up, is a wistful bit of nostalgia for childhood.
The opening track, “Rolling Home,” tells the story of a struggling musician who’s trying to find a balance between life on the road and staying at home with his lover as he pleads with her to give him “one more show.”
Last month, the similarly themed “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” was selected as one of the “Best New Songs of September 2018” by the Vermont-made music blog County Tracks.
And it’s not just music bloggers who are starting to take note. Nostrand said that people, both in the area and outside of Vermont, have started contacting the band for gigs.
“We’ve kind of built up an actual fan base with this band,” Nostrand said. “Somebody went in to one of the local bars here in (Rutland), and was like, ‘How come you don’t have the Miss Guided Angels playing here?’”
“It was George’s mom,” someone quipped as the band erupted in laughter.
That playfulness and easy chemistry is audible on the album, which for all its downbeat themes, has a warm, rich sound full of lush harmonies, tight fiddling and gorgeous pedal steel guitar work on several tracks from guest musician Kevin Maul.
Nostrand credits that sound to Rutland-area producer, engineer and musician Phil Henry.
“Phil did an amazing job producing and recording (the album), and really highlighting everything so you could hear the story and all the parts,” Nostrand said.
“When the songs are good, it’s easy to do,” Henry said. “You serve the song.”
Heading into the fall and winter, the band plans to continue to play around the Rutland area and beyond in support of “The One that Got Away.” Taking stock of his fellow Miss Guided Angels during a break at a recent rehearsal, Nostrand is clearly looking forward to the opportunity.
“We’ve had a great time hanging out together and playing shows,” Nostrand said. “I’ve played with a lot of people — I don’t say that to brag, I say it for context — I feel more comfortable with these guys than I have in any other band.”