Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2016 Mar-Apr Contents 84 Rhythms
Anyone who has enjoyed Australian duo The Weeping
Willows in live performance would have recognised
that there was something missing from their debut
album. Their interactive spark was disappointingly
diluted on record.
To their credit, the duo (Laura Coates and Andrew
Wrigglesworth) acknowledged this and set about
correcting it for their follow-up.
“Well the first album we did completely separately – we
tracked everything separately,” says Coates. “We tracked
the guitars, and then we tracked Andrew’s vocals and
then we tracked my vocals and then we got the fiddle
player, the mando player and all that. And I think it lost
a little bit of the magic doing it that way. We were so
concerned with perfection... not that we achieved that, but
we were so concerned with trying to get our best, in tune,
performance that we kind of stripped any of that live, raw
sound out of it.
“So we were determined with this album, the core of it,
Andy and I, was all sitting in the studio, opposite each
other, he was playing guitar and we sang to each other.
That was hard, we had to practise really hard, but that was
something that we felt with the last album it just didn’t
have any of that spark that we have when we perform
live. So that’s what we tried to capture with this new one.
Whether we did or not, I don’t know.”
I can attest that they achieved their goal. Listen to a
song like ‘Fallen Ring’ from the new album, ‘Before
Darkness Comes A-Callin’, and you’ll hear two voices as
tightly intertwined as you’re likely to hear on a modern
recording. Worshipping at the alter of vocal duos like
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, The Milk Carton Kids,
and the preceding century of vocal Americana/folk that
inspired such modern masters, The Weeping Willows
applied themselves to invigorating a long, largely lost
tradition of interactive, intimate recording.
In fact, it was The Milk Carton Kids’ ‘The Ash & Clay’
album that inspired their choice of recording engineer for
Before ‘Darkness Comes A-Callin’.
“Basically this all came out of going to the Americana
festival last year and hearing Jason Isbell, who’s my
absolute favourite, saying, ‘Do the things that scare you,
that’s the good stuff,’” Coates reveals what lead them to
the door of LA producer Ryan Freeland.
“And I’m like, alright, the thing that scares me is
recording in America. And we didn’t really know who
it was going to be with, but we knew it would be with
someone who recorded one of our favourite albums. And
we didn’t know if it was going to happen or not. It was
kind of pie in the sky stuff.
So we listened to a lot of our favourite albums, a lot of
Gillian, and Milk Carton Kids, and you can find Ryan’s
email on the internet very easily, I just wrote to him and
said, ‘Hey, ‘The Ash & Clay’ is one of the most beautiful
recordings I’ve ever heard, would you be interested in
recording a lowly little Australian duo?’ And he said yes!
Which totally blew our minds.”
So, armed with a batch of new songs, acoustic guitars,
some world class microphones, a handful of guest
instrumentalists, and an engineer who had recorded
everyone from Joe Henry to Ray LaMontagne, the duo
hammered out a full album in less than a week.
The result is a triumph, embracing the timeless and the
traditional (the album closes with an a cappella hymn),
without being purist. The sounds are warm and the songs
are memorable. Following their most extensive national
tour yet this month, the duo plans to head back overseas to
follow up on their previous USA efforts later in the year.
“We’re going to go over for a month this time,” says
Coates. “I wish it could be longer, but we have day jobs...
We definitely just love it over there, just soaking it up,
all the music and the culture and the beautiful friendly
“There’s a couple of venues that we’ve gone back to, we
went back to this little venue in Birmingham Alabama
called Moonlight On The Mountain and there were return
visitors. And some radio people that came and now play
us on Alabama stations. Look it’s gonna be a slow burn,
but we’re in it for the love. There’s no other way.”
‘Before The Darkness Comes A-Callin’ is out March 4.
The Weeping Willows tour nationally through March-
May, full details in the Gig Guide.
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