Reese McHenry’s got a voice like a preacher turning a standard sermon into a cathartic epiphany. Sometimes her croon has a country twang; at other times, she melds bluesy growl with smooth melodic hums. Whatever mode she’s in, her voice is always an attention-grabber.
That means any band playing with McHenry has to be ready to cede the spotlight, but that’s no problem for her fellow North Carolina compatriots Spider Bags. That trio — guitarist Dan McGee, bassist Steve Oliva, and drummer Rock Forbes — has created its fair share of attention-grabbing records, mixing fiery garage rock with wizened blues accents, a mix that is, it turns out, a perfect musical mix over which McHenry can hold court. On Bad Girl, a collaborative LP out this week on Sophomore Lounge, the Spider Bags’ already-raucous energy gets a nuclear boost from McHenry’s passionate wails.
One of Bad Girl‘s most raucous tunes is “Mexico City,” a sharp, riff-heavy blast that makes McHenry’s urgency contagious. “Crossed the border ’bout a week ago / And I’m gonna bring you back home,” she sings, as if on a divine mission. But as the music escalates, things get complicated; perhaps the person she seeks doesn’t even want to be rescued. By song’s end, when McHenry chants “Mexico City, Mexico” over her partners’ slamming chords, you wonder if she’s become so enchanted that she’s decided to stay south of the border herself.