Folk duo hits high note with new lockdown album

Montgomery Church
Where the Quiet Can Hide album
Performing at The Street, Canberra
11 February 2022 (COVID restrictions permitting)

Partners in music and life, Cielle Montgomery and James Church, are making the best of their inability to tour and travel because of COVID lockdowns.

They’d originally planned to travel to Nashville to record their new album. Instead, with remote help from a producer in Melbourne and collaborations with musicians from Braidwood, Melbourne, Newcastle and the the USA, they invested in recording equipment and used their stone hut in the Cooma area as a studio.

Richard samples Where the Quiet Can Hide with Cielle Montgomery and James Church

Like Fanny Lumsden, who lives on the other side of the Snowy Mountains, Montgomery Church performed at Good Folk in Queanbeyan over Easter, at the end of a year’s work on the album.

The couple met at the Tamworth Country Music Academy and have a little boy, Arlo. While their inability to travel has been frustrating – for instance they’ve had to postpone their September performance at The Street – it’s had some benefits for them as a family.

“We had heaps of tours and festivals booked in that year after he was born and so we thought we’d basically be on the road for the first year of of his life and that he’d be going to music festivals and be fully comfortable in that that space,” says Cielle.

“I think he’s only been to one festival [Tamworth] and we went to Western Australia and played a festival there and then we haven’t really been anywhere since. But it’s been lovely because you know, in a lot of ways, it’s given us an opportunity to be at home and to learn how to be parents.”

Cielle describes herself as a later starter in music. In her late 20s she “plucked up the courage” to have singing lessons, started writing songs and met James in 2015.

James decided to learn the dobro after hearing a Jerry Douglas CD at the age of 16. He says the title Where the Quiet Can Hide comes from a line in one of its songs, Out in the Field.

“You hope that these things pop up so that you can easily enough sort out what you’re gonna name your albums because sometimes it can be tricky. But this one seemed to really encapsulate the whole the feeling around a lot of the songs and our music and the space and this vastness that we like to create.”

Photo from Montgomery Church website