May 25, 2013 by Jay Minkin
Since I’m working at the Mr. Bojangles rate with this night job, postings are weekly as much as possible. My mid-day excitement comes when the postman is delivering music with the mail. Usually, I’m the one that is making connections with publicists, artists, labels, or concert promoters. There are those usual suspects of artists that are releasing new material I’m eager to hear. But once and awhile, an album will show up on my doorstep from a local songwriter or someone whose been reading my postings that catches my ear.
Recently, I was delivered a real keeper from a duo that hails from Kalamazoo, Michigan called Red Tail Ring. The gorgeous harmonies of Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo along with their instrumental artistry on fiddle, banjo, guitar, dobro, mandolin, and foot stomping is an Appalachian Americana roots formula reminiscent of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings.
A couple in life as well as music, their newly released The Heart’s Swift Foot holds ten beautiful tracks of original material written over the last two years since two initial albums made in 2011; the all originals Middlewest Chant and a compilation of traditional tunes called Mountain Shout. Two songs recorded for the new record include covers of “My Heart’s Own Love” by Hazel Dickens and “St. James Hospital” by Doc Watson to honor both torchbearers who have passed on to the other side. “We crafted the recording to be as close to our live performance as possible,” Beauchamp says. “We feel we’re at our best when we’re playing together, listening and reacting as we go along.” The new tracks were recorded live at La Luna Studio in Kalamazoo and are being distributed by Earthwork Music with promotion handled by Hearth Music.
From the album’s opening “Ohio Turpike”, the songwriting has a comforting musical flow as Premo and Beauchamp trade off lead vocals and blend harmonies. The big radio single “Katy Came Breezing” is somewhat of a conversation between two lovers that will just melt your heart. The title track picks at the heart and questions if it can stop searching while “Body Like A Bell” is an olde-tyme hillbilly blues number. The ballad “Queen of the West (and other stories)” talks of a persevering friendship while “Dirt Triangle” blends the two voices about an empty plot of land in the heart of a city.
Though they don’t advertise being a couple, the stories they sing are more about the human spirit and perseverance than about themselves. Premo explains “Michael and I aren’t just singing about ourselves. These are everybody’s stories. We’re not delivering concrete answers that we’ve found to these grey areas of life, but just singing through the questions that have gotten us closer to some understanding”. Beauchamp adds “There are a lot of questions in these songs and some of the questions are related to love and if a wandering heart can love one person for a whole life”.
You can visit the home page of Red Tail Ring at www.redtailring.com to sample some songs, check for tour dates, and be added to their e-mail list. Don’t let this one fall under your radar, ’cause friends are counting on you to turn them on to some new music this summer. We will explore some more new music next week … so stay tuned.