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Band of Lovers

How can you keep a life on the road sustainable? With its addictive push and pull, the realities of the ride are bound to catch up. Enter: Band of Lovers’ sophomore album American Tour.

 

Unlike the Californian folk-pop ideals of their debut album The Coast (2015), they’ve paved a new road with American Tour- one of intense growth, mapped with realizations about the self, relationships, and the beauty the country has to offer. Layered in three-part harmonies, lush string arrangements, stripped down acoustics, and magnetically poetic lyrics, Band of Lovers’ follow-up record is nothing short of stunning sophistication. Written on and off the road, the 11 tracks unveil the unique bond of three musicians blossoming—with an invitation to let us join in on their journey.

 

It all began in 2013. Leaving more conventional lives in New York, composer Dave Strumfeld and lyricist Sabina Beachdell took their 10-year history to the road as full-time musicians. Two years later, the addition of percussionist/vocalist Liliana Urbain brought the now-trio to an entirely new level. “To me, the record is hopeful,” says Beachdell (vocals/ukulele), “and yet there’s a heartache, a longing. Within that is this simple feeling of being in the moment. Of being truly present.” Optimism still shines a light— like upbeat “Out West” and “Carry You”—but the album calls for a darker, more haunting presence. The energy is there, but fans should be prepared to grant the album their full attention for a deeper listening.

 

American Tour will, naturally, take you on a ride: “Anthem” was developed over the course of a year and in ten different states; “Lakes and Oceans” was written on a dark night in Minnesota; “Michigan” was born on the shores of the eponymous lake, the lyrics taking shape as the blacktop gave way to a dirt road one summer afternoon. Musically, it feels both familiar and unpredictable. The band’s adventurous spirit is represented through unhindered melodies and unexpected harmonies, giving the album as dynamic a feeling as the landscape offers.

 

When the time came to track the record, the trio gave their 1997 Dodge van a well-earned rest in the driveway of Sonart Recording Studio outside of Woodstock, NY, where the album was engineered, mixed, and mastered by Tom Rosato (Technical Director of the Bardavon Theater in Poughkeepsie, NY). Joining the band for the sessions were bassist Joey Arcuri (Driftwood); pianist/string arranger Ryan Chase (Professor of Composition at Colgate University); violin/violist Rachel Handman (Philharmonic Orchestras of America); cellist Daniel Frankhuizen (Empire Chamber Orchestra); and vibraphonist Dan Galliher. Mike Angstadt recorded his trombone parts remotely from Fort Collins, CO.

 

During the fleeting, stationary moments was born a record electric with a sense of freedom and lightness of movement. “All of these songs were written from the road, and feed the wanderlust, and the lonesome joy of it,” says Beachdell. “I want to give people the country as we see it, as we feel it, alive and glorious and heartbreakingly beautiful.”

 

American Tour is years’ worth of motion in song form, showing us the nation from the windows of a moving van, from its truck stops and campgrounds, national forests and sea shores, and the warm glow of welcoming friends. It’s a portrait of, and an ode to, the country in its raw, loving, and honest state, made whole by the people who live every day in—and out of—love with it.

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Photo by Keating DiRisio