This Los Angeles, California, USA quintet comprises Jenny Homer (vocals, guitar), Charlie Baldonado (guitar, vocals), Janine Cooper (bass, ex-Pet Clark), Rob Jacobs (drums, percussion) and Salvador Garze (violin). Cooper replaced original, long-time bass player Nancy McCoy, who opted to devote herself to motherhood, in time for Slow Sky. Downy Mildew’s origins can be traced to the mid-80s when renowned independent label Texas Hotel Records released their debut EP and two follow-up albums (these were later reissued on new home, High Street Records). Recalling California’s vintage 60s pop mood, with the group weaned on the sounds of the Beach Boys and Mamas And The Papas, songwriters Homer and Baldonado used these influences as a platform for their simple but affecting pop songs - often orchestrated in tandem with unexpected lyrical twists. With the duo writing both individually and collaboratively, this three-pronged approach led to considerable stylistic diversity within the band’s albums, with Baldonado’s enduring affection for Burt Bacharach (including a cover version of ‘Walk On By’) noted by several critics. Earlier, Broomtree had announced these disparate songwriting approaches, with Baldonado’s writing more rooted in the folk rock tradition, contrasting with Homer’s harder, up-tempo style. Comparisons to 10, 000 Maniacs were, at this stage at least, not too far wide of the mark. Another unifying factor in the band’s appeal, that of accomplished musicianship and self-reliant production, was further evinced with Mincing Steps. A cohesive collection of songs performed in a quasi-orchestral style, it managed to balance grandeur with harmonic pop essentials. An Oncoming Train, Downy Mildew’s acclaimed debut for High Street Records, saw them enlist the services of Mitchell Froom associate Tchad Blake, who had previously worked with Los Lobos, Suzanne Vega and Tom Waits. Their relationship together continued with Slow Sky, which refined the group’s sound further. The familiar elements - lush male/female vocal interchanges overriding darker lyrical sentiments - were offered a new sheen by virtue of the group’s evident self-confidence and poise.