Originally self-released in 2005, the debut album by Canadian country singer/songwriter Mike Gouchie was reissued in 2006 by Arbor Records, a small EMI-distributed label specializing in traditional Native American music. Hearing Bad Boys & Angels without reading Gouchie's bio, the listener would be forgiven for not picking up on Gouchie's First Nations (the preferred general term in Canada, much as Native American is used in the states) roots. Born and raised on the Canadian prairies, Gouchie no doubt grew up steeped in Nashville country, a musical style with surprisingly deep roots in Canada's western and central provinces; as a result, Bad Boys & Angels has the neo-traditionalist twang and no-bull blue-collar ethic an American listener might expect from a singer/songwriter from West Texas. Only the barebones production, which is awash in D.I.Y. authenticity but lacks the casual slickness that Nashville demands, keeps Bad Boys & Angels from sounding like the latest Music Row product. Finally, that might be Mike Gouchie's undoing: songs like the twangy title track and the ghostly ballad "Angels Unaware" are as catchy but uninspired as the average third-string country boy from the Curb Records stable, pleasant lifestyle music that lacks the force of personality to make it leap out from the seemingly dozens of equally fine country records released in any given year. Bad Boys & Angels suggests that Mike Gouchie can play in Nashville's big leagues. The question is whether he can do better than that.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason