Mils Goose Chase, i.e, Scott Peters and Sam Amos, are a unique acoustic duo. Aside from their singing, their sole means of musical support comes from Amos on guitar and banjo, and Peters contributing cello and mandocello. While such a combination might suggest a rather frail framework as far as backing for their songs and style are concerned, the results are anything but, thanks to their lilting harmonies and fingerboard finesse.
Granted, their unlikely handle — not to mention songs bearing names such as Radio (Hate It So Much), Apocalyptic Blues, and Rat Cheese Under the Hill — don’t necessarily contribute to any real sense of competence or credibility. It’s also been said that in their live performances they don’t offer the impression that they take themselves all that seriously. Nevertheless, the songs do make an immediate impression. The opening salvo of Radio (Hate It So Much) is suitably rousing and robust, one of several instances where Peters uses his cello to simulate the sound of a fiddle. On the other hand, the saunter and sway of Mountain Song and Shoulda Loved You More convey a tender touch, just as an emotive Tennessee helps infuse an overall allure.
What’s especially surprising is the fact that, despite the stripped-down settings, the songs make an emphatic impression. Apocalypse Blues, All My Sons, and Angeline make for a series of sweet serenades, while a pair of traditional instrumentals, 8th of January and Cindy/Rat Cheese Under the Hill, are fleshed out with absolute authority. So too, a rich rendition of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings’ I Want To Sing That Rock and Roll is as commanding and compelling as the title suggests. All provide proof that while less may not always be more, relying on only two players doesn’t necessarily stifle the sound.
In fact, Peters and Amos are clearly adept at creating carefully-crafted compositions. That’s what makes A Tentative Debut seem much more like a bold beginning.