Songs of Water
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Songs of Water

Greensboro, North Carolina, United States

Greensboro, North Carolina, United States
Band Alternative Avant-garde

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Songs of Water is a seven-piece ensemble Americana band, with world music influences. Based in North Carolina, the band is made up of Elisa Rose, Michael Pritchard, Stephen Price, Greg Willette, Jon Kliegle, Luke Skaggs and Stephen Roach. The band has independently released two full-length albums, and were named “The Best Independent Band of 2012″ by Indie Music Reviewer Magazine. They are currently working on their third album, a documentary, and a music video. Songs of Water’s lead singer Stephen Roach recently took the time to answer some questions for Wake Magazine.



Wake: Where did the name of your band come from?

Stephen Roach, Songs of Water: Songs of Water is a phrase I took from a scrap of my poetry. At the time, I simply liked the mystery it evoked, though I think it has come to accurately describe the music we’re making these days.



What are some of your earliest memories of music?

I grew up in a large family of bluegrass musicians. My earliest memories involve family gatherings with old time music being passed around a circle.



What are some of the challenges of having so many band members?

Navigating through the creative process with so many varying perspectives is a real challenge but in the end a mutual humility allows us to reach for a common goal. As long as our relationships with one another take precedence even over the music, things flow pretty smoothly.



How do you go about writing your music? Does one band member do most of the writing, or do you take more of a group approach?

The new album really stretched us in the way we approach writing together. In the past, our music felt more like a compilation than collaboration. However, these new songs showcase a bit more maturity as co-writers.

I tend to be the primary lyricist and bring most of our singer/songwriter material to the table, but no band member is relegated to any particular role or instrument. Our drummer has written melodies for the dulcimer. Our bassist has written lyrics and vocal melodies. I’ve written lines for the violin though I don’t play it. We all come around the music and made it larger than any one person’s contribution.



How would you describe the sound of your band? What genre(s) do you identify with?

Some folks have considered us a world music band but I don’t think we’re trained enough to hold that title. We’re all just a group of experimentalists that love undiscovered, or marginal sounds. We like to make music out of pretty much anything we can squeeze a sound out of. If we find an instrument and don’t know how to play it correctly, we’ll create our own way with it.

One of my favorite descriptions of our sound is “eclectic pawn shop music”. That at least doesn’t feel quite as daunting as being a “world music” band. At the heart of it, our music is genuinely an American music. Perhaps you could call it Post-Traditional Folk. It expresses the creative and cultural melding pot our country has always been.



What are some of the major messages and themes you try and get across through your music, and particularly your lyrics?

I’m convinced there’s always more than what we’ve seen or encountered. There is no too far, it’s just how far we choose to go. I’m always looking for something to shock and amaze or to leave me stricken with wonder. I tend to look for inspiration hiding within everything. Our lyrics reflect that search.



Who are some of your musical influences?

We each have such a varied taste for music the list gets pretty long. To name a few, I would mention Dead Can Dance, Devotchka, Warsaw Village Band, Aradhna, Timbre, Traditional music from Turkey, Guinea, and various other cultures; We love Tom Waits and Gregory Alan Isakov.



What do you want listeners to take away from your instrumental song “Bread and Circus?”

Bread and Circus showcases the more cinematic side of the band. It’s a beautiful cacophony of about thirty instruments all waltzing together in a sporadic lilt.



The song ‘Willow’ has in the lyrics a reference to Psalm 137. Explain why you chose these lyrics.

Willow is inspired in part by the death of a close friend and birth of my first child. It is a song that is no stranger to sorrow but much like the psalm, it doesn’t stay there. It keeps going until hope finds its way to the scene. Hope always wins if you keep going far enough.



What are some of your favorite venues to play and why?

Each venue becomes part of the music. Everything from the aesthetic, the shape of the building, the smells, the lighting and of course the audience draw out different aspects of what we do. A personal favorite of mine tends to be theater settings like the Work Play Theater in Birmingham, Alabama. That type of venue allows the music to be larger than life while maintaining an intimacy about it.



Tell me about your pre show routine. Are there any superstitions or rituals you have?

No superstitions or hats left on the bed for us. Prayer and simply connecting with each other always helps clear our minds.



What is next for Songs of Water?

We are currently finishing a new album, a documentary on the band, and a music video. All of these will be released this year with a supporting tour as well. - Wake Magazine


World music dances a seductive tango with folk guitar while exotic percussion keeps the beat. Songs of Water is a 7-piece ensemble from North Carolina. They have been playing together since 2002, and have two albums under their belt. Using over 40 instruments during the recording of their most recent release, The Sea Has Spoken; Songs of Water creates music that is ethereal, imaginative and spectacular. “The music of Songs of Water is best described as a spiritual conversation of eclectic sounds and instrumentation.” The aforementioned line was taken from the band’s Facebook page, and is one of the many reasons why Songs of Water has been chosen for the cover of our Indie Acoustic issue.

The Sea Has Spoken is an album that can be compared to no one or any other album. It has many different styles of music featured from all over the world, and each song is as intriguing as the next. Each song is a unique journey, and Songs of Water seem to convey different emotions and styles effortlessly.

“Through the Deadwood” is an intense track featuring just percussion instruments. Stephen Roach and Luke Skaggs play the solo djembe, dunduns, doumbek, and auxiliary percussions. This song would sound best live and in person. To keep the listener entertained and interested in a song with just one section of a band is a feat all in itself. To know that only two people created it is remarkable! Aside from the impressive percussion track, The Sea Has Spoken features some beautiful music that includes instrumentation from orchestral strings and acoustic guitars. From the heart-breaking “Beneath the Sleeping City” where you can feel such strong emotion being poured through, the instruments take on a human persona and tell a story. Almost as if they are crying and pleading, it’s a sign of a true musician to be able to convey such emotion without singing one word. That’s not to say there isn’t any singing on this album, however. There are tracks that feature vocals and they are beautiful and haunting. Never overshadowing the music, they are like icing on the cake.

After listening to The Sea Has Spoken, I had a few questions in mind to ask the band, and Stephen Roach was so gracious to answer. Take a moment to see what he has to say, and give Songs of Water a listen; let their music take you somewhere new and exotic.

KC: How does the song creating process work with such a big band?

SR: Our process is still evolving but we’ve come a long way from where we began. Most everyone in the band composes so we’ve had to learn to make room for each other’s different perspectives and not to be too critical too soon. For us, the writing process involves a lot of faith and willingness to venture past our own preferences into unknown territory. When we successfully pull this off, I feel our compositions grow much larger than any one contributor.

KC: Let’s talk about your live performances. What can people expect when they come to a show?

SR: For me, the live performance is the space where we get to step outside the mundane of everyday life and enter into a completely free and creative environment. We often improvise a lot and make it a priority to have a lot of fun. Our shows are very interactive and typically involve about 40 instruments, visual art and film when the venue permits. It’s very communal.

KC: How is working on your new album different than the process of recording The Sea Has Spoken?

SR: We are working with a new producer on this record whom we have not worked with before. We also have new members contributing who weren’t with us on “the sea”. The Sea Has Spoken was tracked in several different spaces, but this one will primarily be recorded in one space. Our songwriting and creative process has matured since the last record, which I hope will be reflected in the production as well.

KC: How did you come up with the names of your songs? Or, do the songs seem to name themselves?

SR: It’s sort of like naming your children. You just feel in your gut what their given name is meant to be. Sometimes we may start with a theme, other times we don’t really know the characteristic of a song until it is completed, and then the name comes naturally. We have some songs which we’ve involved our audiences with the naming process.

KC: How did the band react to finding out they were picked to be featured on our Indie Acoustic issue?

SR: We were very excited and really appreciate what you guys are doing for independent artists as ourselves.

Songs Of Water really has something special going for them. With seven different writers and composers, one can bet you will never hear the same sound twice. They are the kind of band you just have to hear to understand the brilliance behind the music. They used around 40 to 50 instruments on the album, The Sea Has Spoken and not once will the listener feel like there is too much going on, or that the sound is un-organized. To hear they have matured even more sin - Indie Acoustic Magazine


Songs of Water combines multicultural sounds and anchors them in North Carolina’s rich musical traditions.
uncommonfolk

Stephen Roach pulls bells, whistles, and noisemakers from a green suitcase propped atop a chair on a small stage at The Green Bean, a coffee house in downtown Greensboro. Grabbing his djembe, he pounds his hands in a primitive rhythm. Drummer Michael Pritchard answers with a polyrhythmic beat. Pound, beat. Pound, beat. Pound, beat. The audience grows restless with anticipation.

I scrape my chair back for the third time to make room for the burgeoning crowd until I’m almost sitting in the lap of Laura Galloway, a self-professed groupie who travels all over North Carolina to hear Roach’s band, Songs of Water.

“I think I’m addicted to their new CD,” I tell Galloway. “I have to listen to it every day.”
Enjoy these songs from The Sea Has Spoken by Songs of Water
Window Seat

The Family Tree

“I know; me, too,” she says, relieved to know another woman of a seasoned age shares her obsession.

Finally, classically trained violinist Marta Richardson adds her elegant strings to the pounding beat as Roach teases the hungry crowd.

“Are you ready to take off?” Roach asks. “All right, let’s see what happens.”

The band and the audience share a tangible bond. The musicians prefer playing to hometown crowds, basking in the love and support of family and friends. It feels right to give back to a community that offered support for so many years, Richardson says. “It’s a mutual understanding that we belong together, that we come from the same place and are on a journey together.”
Musical experiment

Songs of Water began about eight years ago as Roach’s vision to take traditional, multicultural sounds and combine them in an American, experimental fashion. He took his idea to friend and co-writer Jason Windsor. The two began collaborating and then invited Richardson to come on board. Richardson and Charlotte cellist Sarah Stephen bring sophistication to the folksy sound with their talent on the strings. Pritchard’s rhythm strikes a middle ground between tradition and innovation, while bass and guitar player Greg Willette echoes the distinctive Piedmont style, similar to Doc Watson and Etta Baker.

While on tour in California, the band’s serendipitous meeting with Luke and Molly Skaggs, son and daughter of bluegrass icon Ricky Skaggs, added even more variety to the band’s sound. Luke contributes with the Irish bouzouki, violin, and vocals, and Molly plays the accordion and banjo, reflecting her studies of Appalachian mountain music.

“We didn’t originally think, ‘Let’s start a band with electric folk instruments and pursue this as a vocation,’ ” Roach says. “We soon realized that we had stumbled upon a very unique sound that needed to be heard by a larger audience.”

For two years, the band worked on its recently released CD, The Sea Has Spoken, which includes guests Ricky Skaggs and tuba player Mark Daumin, of the Chapel Hill band Lost in the Trees. While Skaggs provided Skaggs Place Studio in Nashville, Tennessee, for recording, North Carolina’s tight-knit music community buoyed the effort. Wake Forest University opened its doors for additional recording sessions and the use of percussion instruments. Joel Khouri, from Charlotte’s Bright City Studios, co-produced the album with the band. He made the long trips to Nashville and, in the end, pulled everything together from the various recording sessions.

Although listeners will hear more than 30 instruments on the new album — from dun duns to doumbeks — the songs still ring familiar. Traditional sounds from the hammered dulcimer, banjo, and acoustic guitar reflect North Carolina’s musical roots. All the musicians credit their North Carolina heritage for influencing their music.

“From Appalachia to Albemarle, from bluegrass to beach music, North Carolina’s rich musical history found its way into my heart and my fingertips,” Windsor says. “I’m continually grateful to have grown up in a state so passionate about art and music.”

On that small stage at The Green Bean, the band plays the last song of the set. Some of the band members close their eyes and lift their faces toward heaven, seeming to hear something meant for their ears only. But the crowd appreciates the privilege to listen in. - Our State Magazine


Many band names sound exactly like the likeness their name creates: Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Napalm Death, Fallout Boy, Reel Big Fish, String Cheese Incident, Richard Cheese & the Lounge, Rage Against the Machine and Bob Dylan come to mind. Bookmark that concept while I bring to the spotlight Songs of Water. Once you fact check confirming they’re not a tribute band to the York, PA 90’s rock legends Live, (every one of their songs was about water?) you discover a very unique blend of worldly folk, bluegrass, orchestra, and a wide variety of majestic vocal harmonies. Exactly what you think it might be.

Songs of Water hail from Greensboro, NC and depending on which day you catch them, are a six-piece ensemble of multi-instrumentalists that have, and will, take many different forms, much like…wait for it…WATER. If you choose to break the band into molecules, everything starts with the hammer dulcimer; one could say it’s Songs of Waters’ Point Guard, leading the way, one mallet strike to the next. With a simple pivot and turn the band can sound poppy and simplistic in an Americana sense much in the vein of Mumford & Sons, like on their new single “Stars and Dust.” On the flip side, they have the ability to lock and load the fire hose, pressurizing a tantalizing sound of orchestral delight, spanning over 30+ instruments from all over the world in a slightly overwhelming cinematic scene for your listening pleasure. It’s just a matter of what kind of glass you want to use.

Whatever your choice, the music is easy on the ears and appealing to the senses. Some might quickly equate the sound to that of an exotic pawnshop, or, better yet, act immediately, light a few candles, scrape some leaves together, close your eyes and take a floating nap. Transcendent transportation is one of life’s ever rewarding pleasures—Songs of Water can take you there.

There has been a natural progression to where Songs of Water is today. Jamming as early as 10 years ago, the band harnessed their improvisational song structures in 2004’s self-titled Songs of Water. In a conversation with BRM prior to playing the Shakori Hills Music Festival, lead singer Steven Roach, said, “the band didn’t really get serious about ‘being a band’ until 2007…then we started kicking it up a notch and gaining momentum.” The band worked tirelessly, recorded and released independently The Sea Has Spoken in 2010. It featured more vocal harmonies and a passion for experimenting with different instruments, without loosing their roots in cerebral Earthiness.

Currently, the band is touring occasionally, but the focus is on capturing the wizardry for the follow up third album. According to Roach, their progressive maturity as a band has taken a real ying-yang approach from previous work, “for ‘The Sea Has Spoken’ we entered the studio with 95% of the album done and let the studio time finish the project. This time around we have about 5% of the work done and are producing the shape of the band live in the studio…we have 100’s of files, pieces, improv jams recorded and about four or five songs.”

That sounds like a ridiculous amount of work given the sonic and phonetic capabilities for the musicians in Songs of Water. From what I’ve heard so far, no matter the shape, it’s going to be delicious and refreshing. It’s certain they understand the process of conjuring the ebb and flow of experimentation. The new album will feature more “songwriting” structured songs as well as continuing to push forward and strive to pioneer new sounds with increased access to instrumentation and the virtuosity that comes from that boundary extending passion.

My favorite Songs of Water hootenanny is “Bread and Circus,” the second song off The Sea Has Spoken, a psychedelic instrumental that channels the overt eeriness of “the Greatest Show on Earth” with the driving cap-tip to one of their biggest influences, fellow hammer dulcimer strikers Dead Can Dance. The song has enough percussion to blow your speakers while stirring and changing pace enough to enchant the elephants. Don’t stop and get peanuts when they play this live.

There are songs with vocals as well. When Roach sings, his voice is very soothing and often accompanied by a harmonious blend of backing vocals, giving them a Nickel Creek vibe vocally. Lyrically, the writing tends to have a personal, spiritual, uplifting aura without feeling excessively sanctuary bound. Roach commented on his songwriting cupboard, citing “influence from the wording of French surrealist poets” and a desire to “create an aesthetic cinematic point of view.” The world created by Roach and Co. is vast and full of promise. A soundscape for appreciating life, nature and everything we’ve been blessed with on this giant ball of land, but mostly water.

If Bruce Dickenson were in the studio, recording these unparalleled beasts of visceral ingeniousness, I think he’d talk about how thirsty he is. And how the only prescription is more water.

We - Broken Records Magazine


Featuring a cadre of musicians based in Greensboro, North Carolina, the tracks on this album exhibit an elusive, arresting quality that separates it from the fray. Instruments like hammered dulcimer, varied percussion, Norwegian fiddles, even the “gadgets” that are listed in the liner notes, combine for an interesting, almost Gaelic feel. There are notable contributions to the album from so many, with Stephen Roach writing many of the songs and playing a wild assortment of instruments, from the dulcimer to the doumbek to the aforementioned “gadgets.” Luke Skaggs, Molly Skaggs, Jason Windsor, Greg Willette, Sarah Stephens and Michael Pritchard are featured prominently throughout the album as well, leading to a diverse, malleable lineup. There is a refined quality at heart of the tracks of this album, and a decided sparseness that stems from what seems to be “instrumental” music. But some five tracks in, we finally hear the intervention of a human voice, and the delivery is powerful and effective.


The album begins in arresting fashion with the atmospheric “Everything That Rises.” There is a yearning quality that comes to life as dulcimer pairs evocatively with violin, cello and guitar. “Bread and Circus” intermittently ticks like a clock, or swells with evocative strings, seeming evocative of distant lands and times. Jason Windsor wrote and performed the minimalist, elegant “Prelude,” which segues into the urgent “Window Seat,” punctuated by guitar and tasty percussion. Country and bluegrass luminaire Ricky Skaggs contributes fretless banjo to “Sycamore,” the first track to feature vocals. The effect of said vocals proves haunting and elusive, as the album has been so cerebral up until this point. Stephen Roach’s vocals convey nicely, and the backing vocals provided by Luke and Molly Skaggs offer excellent depth and emotive complexity. Marta Richardson’s electric violin proves particularly evocative in this track as well. “The Great Russian Catastrophe” is particularly striking and bold, as frenzied mandolin and Norwegian fiddle strike elegant poses. The track finds a particularly serene valley then swells from there with blustery strings.



“Through the Dead Wood” offers two minutes of scintillating drums and percussion, while Stephen Roach’s mandolin couples with two arresting violins (Ricky Skaggs and Luke Skaggs) in “Family Tree.” “Beneath the Sleeping City” offers ambient textures and a decidedly cinematic feel, with pacing steps and haunted strings. “Luminitsa” offers an exotic, Middle Eastern feel as banjo skitters against the tapestry, offering a choice juxtaposition of musical styles. “Hwyl” grabs me by the throat here with hammered dulcimer, and the album closes with “Willow,” only the second track to utilize vocals. The track closes with a feeling of positivity and hope, the singing of hallelujahs, one last bit of hopeful inspiration to ease any desperation.



“The Sea Has Spoken” proves to be delectable and otherworldly. The album seems unique; time-stamped from some other time and place. As a 3 year writer for the Home Grown Music Network, I get lots of different albums, of varying attitudes and genres. In that time frame, I can honestly say that I have never reviewed an album with the sophistication and grace of “The Sea Has Spoken.” This is a truly remarkable recording; a discovery I am most pleased about.

- J Evan Wade - Homegrown Music Network


I think sometimes, when we judge music, it becomes easy to weigh the value of an album based on its lyrical content. I would go as far to say that often times, the integrity of the instrumentation is overshadowed by the emotions laced within the lyrics. That being said, Songs Of Water’s forthcoming sophomore album, The Sea Has Spoken, is one of the most vibrant musical works I have heard in the last three years. Mostly without lyrics, the music produces a unique language, allowing the violin to tell a story or the mandolin to share a dance; the fiddle to take you on a journey or the percussion to beat beneath your skin.
At first glance, Songs Of Water, which is an eight-member band ranging in talent from the hacky sack to the shruti box, is akin to bands like Old School Freight Train, Nickel Creek, and Punch Brothers. It’s that easily recognizable folk experience, deeply rooted in the belly of a banjo and refined by the elegance of a violin. But the breadth and ability of this band is so much more than that.

The Sea Has Spoken begins with “Everything That Rises,” which starts off with the hammered dulcimer, then layers a foundation for the violin to become the focal point of the song. Played by both Marta Richardson and Luke Skaggs, the violin also becomes the cynosure in songs like “Bread and Circus” and “Sycamore.” But let’s talk more about the hammered dulcimer. It’s described as an “Appalachian folk instrument,” but I don’t think that quite gives it justice. In the right hands, which happen to be Steven Roach’s, the instrument can produce sounds that mimic the robustness of bagpipes, the fluidity of the piano, the dropping of rain on a tin roof, and still be crisp enough to remind you that it’s made of strings.

“Window Seat” is one the songs I was most intrigued by because of the shift in focus towards the guitar and the creation of a flair found in more Spanish-influenced music, like that of Rodrigo y Gabriela. This sound is even more prominent on the song “Luminitsa,” and is due in large part to the influence of Jason Windsor, whose range of play on the strings is remarkable. Also of note, “The Great Russian Catastrophe” is just one of the songs that drifts away from folk and instead carries a more Eastern melody involving the domra (think Russian mandolin). The sound of the strings is so distinct and rich, it leaves the taste of metal on your tongue.

The band is experimental, too, showing signs of curiosity and texture building in songs like, “Beneath The Sleeping City” and “Belly Of The Whale,” which use sounds of shoes striking sidewalks and heavy percussion fused with chime-like noises.
“Sycamore” is the first time we hear lyrics, and it happens again on the final song, “Willow.” Roach’s singing is soft and muffled in static, but becomes clear and high as the song goes on. I love the harmonizing of Sarah Stephens, and was pleasantly surprised to hear the vocals drape over the instrumentation without tainting the music.

As you listen to The Sea Has Spoken, you’ll find that the depth of each song creates a kaleidoscope effect. Wherein, at one moment you feel that you are walking on a cliff against the sea, and the next you find yourself meandering through a circus tent. I love lyrics as much as the next person, but find myself incredibly moved and enraptured by the work of Songs Of Water.
Posted by Blue Indian

- The Blue Indian


Songs Of Water had a triumphant CD release Friday night at the Visulite Theatre. Their fans were present and accounted for in large numbers - in fact it was almost difficult to walk around. The guys had a video crew there to record just about everything that was going on - using about 5 cameras simultaneously! The only weird thing was that the Visulite didn't use those fancy LED lights they have for the stage. In fact, leaving the lights on Red with a little Yellow accent doesn't do very well for video or photography. In fact it pretty much sucks. Hope they have some pretty cool post processing white balance adjustments they can make to their video because what they were capturing raw wasn't very flattering.

However, the music was exceptional as the band played through the contents of the album sharing with the audience a little of the background behind the songs, as I've laid it out in the interview earlier this week. Gotta say the percussion results were bigger live than when listening to the CD. Nothing like having several members of the band beating their respective percussion in unison - just sounds awesome!

With all the various gear on stage it looked a little crowded. The band had an addition with them on a couple of songs as well - a didgeridoo added another welcome layer of complexity to this world music sonic display. The didgeridoo (also known as a didjeridu or didge) is a wind instrument developed by Indigenous Australians of northern Australia at least 1,500 years ago and is still in widespread usage today both in Australia and around the world. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or "drone pipe".

Photos from the Songs Of Water CD Release show - "The Sea Has Spoken".

Continuing the interview contents with Stephen from earlier in the week, he shared the normal perspective of what it's like to put the band into a van and head out on a 9 hour trip from Greensboro to Nashville. Instead of wild and whacky the story goes - "Invariably Jason plugs in his I-Pod and tunes us out, Mike & Greg open their DVD's and begin the process of zoning out, leaving Stephen and Luke to pontificate life and the secrets of the universe." Not exactly a Griswald family trip, but they get there just the same.

There's a YouTube video promo (on their MySpace page) made at the end of the first Nashville trip where the guys wanted to celebrate their first tracks of the new CD being laid. Their intent was to light a big bottle-rocket in honor of their success. So Luke is nominated to place the rocket into the ground so they can light it. Luke stuffs it in the ground, they light it, and as the big fizzle begins, the rocket goes nowhere as it's anchored into the ground and then "bang" it explodes at ground level as everyone jumps for cover. The guys found the experience of making "The Sea Has Spoken" to be a "relationally bonding and rewarding experience which they feel comes through in the artistry of the album". Check out the video here!

There's a song on the album titled "The Great Russian Catastrophe". It features a Russian instrument that Luke had brought back some time ago from a trip to Russia. His intent was to use it in this song. On the day the song was to be recorded, Luke stepped on the instrument, breaking the neck off. Doh #1. They got it repaired and on the next trip to Nashville were successful in recording the song using the instrument - but later Luke broke the neck again. Doh #2. Recently they have been using a mandolin in performing the song - but as fate would have it, the mandolin fell over and yep, the neck broke on it. Moral of the story - be darned careful what you name your songs.

Currently the band is working to put together a more comprehensive performance schedule to promote the release of "The Sea Has Spoken". They have been scheduled to perform at the Tosco Music Party on April 17th as well as performing with Holy Ghost Tent Revival at the Neighborhood Theatre June 5th. They also have dates planned at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh as well as dates around their hometown of Greensboro. There's a chance the band will engage a booking agent to help offload that aspect of the planning to get them some further visibility, but for now they'll be concentrating within the Southeast region.

As a group of tuned-in young people, the band are very knowledgeable of the marketing pro's and con's the internet bestows upon the business side of their activities. As an independent band operating without the support of the "industry" they take advantage of the global visibility afforded by social networking sites & website like Reverbnation (which has been particularly helpful). The band will make their music available on I-Tunes as well as other blog sites, magazines and webpages via a variety of means and "widgets". This technology has allowed them to "set their own borders, or parameters, while understanding the importance of booking and management in freeing up time to c - Monty Chandler of The Examiner


Songs Of Water - The Sea Has Spoken
2010, Songs Of Water

Just two months into the year, we're ready to declare that Songs Of Water's The Sea Has Spoken is one of the most finely crafted (mostly) instrumental albums for the year. Others may come along and vie for the crown, but it's going to be tough to take it out of Songs Of Water's hands. Mixing and melding Classical, Celtic, Bluegrass and New Age styles into a coherent sound around highly original compositions, Songs Of Water has far and away surpassed their self-titled 2008 debut. It doesn't hurt having much of the Skaggs family sitting in throughout the album (son Luke is a member of Songs Of Water), but Ricky Skaggs and two other members of the Skaggs clan ad instrumental support without impinging on Songs Of Water's highly original sound. The Sea Has Spoken drops on March 26, 2010.

From the opening notes of “Everything That Rises” you'll know you're in for a different experience than on most pure instrumental albums. Hammered dulcimer, violin and guitar entertain in an energetic musical conversation that is as uplifting as the song title might imply, even amidst the note of relinquished sorrow that runs through the main theme. The musicianship here is absolutely incredible, a symphony of sounds gained by non-symphonic means. “Bread And Circus” ranges from modern to antiquity, sounding at times like the sort of chamber music that once entertained European illuminati. “Window Seat” makes use of contrapuntal rhythms and soaring passages that evoke vivid images in your mind; a sort of soundtrack to dreams you don't quite remember. Stephen Roach steps forward on vocals for “Sycamore”; a pleasantly mellow tune that's a nice change of pace but doesn't carry the same vibrancy as the instrumental work on The Sea Has Spoken.

“The Great Russian Catastrophe” is highly rhythmic with heavy Slavic influences that are quite enjoyable, but “Through The Dead Wood” takes the manic rhythms a step further as a thoroughly percussion-based composition that is nothing short of amazing. Fans of groups like Rusted Root in particular will love what Songs Of Water has going on here. Bluegrass chutes push through beneath “The Family Tree”, an amazingly lyric composition full of some of the tightest, most precise musicianship on the album. For all of that fine control, not an ounce of spirit is lost. “Luminitsa” plays like the musings of a Romani Bard, blending Spanish, Middle Eastern and Eastern European musical elements into a style that's instantly foreign yet familiar. “Luminitsa” brings an air of mystery to The Sea Has Spoken, dark and beautiful and ever so slightly out of reach. “Hwyl” carries with it a distinctly urgent feel, tearing along at breakneck speed as Songs Of Water heads into the final stretch home. “Belly Of The Whale” plays on the Biblical tale with a mystic mix of rhythm, ambience and truncated instrumentation. “The Sea Has Spoken” is a resigned if not mournful undulation that seems more a running monologue than a time-oriented pronouncement. The title track is a thing of beauty, slow in pace and measure; deriving beautiful arcs of melody, particularly from the violin. Songs Of Water closes out with the plaintive “Willow”, the second and final track featuring vocals on the album. The cyclic nature of the mandolin part and the cadence of the melody seem to speak of the eternal ebb and pull of the ocean on the earth, or the wind through the trees. The song is elemental in feel and emotional impact, winding down the album almost as day blends into night.

Songs Of Water made is very apparent with their self-titled debut that they were a band not to be taken lightly. They could easily have trod the same ground they did on Songs Of Water, but instead chose to continue wading deeper into their muse. Consequently, The Sea Has Spoken shall be spoken of in terms of brilliance. The nuances and shading in the music are unusual in anything like the popular realm; the blending of styles such as bluegrass, world and classical is uncommon if not unique. In spite of the lack of a distinct genre to hang their hats on, I wouldn’t be surprised if Songs Of Water were named in company with bands such as The Chieftains one day.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Songs Of Water at http://www.songsofwater.com/ or www.myspace.com/songsofwater. Songs Of Water will celebrate the release of The Sea Has Spoken on March 26, 2010 at the Visulite Theater in Charlotte, NC. Keep checking the band's website for availability. - Wildy's World


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Songs of Water's distinct and evocative sound carries roots from the most ancient of cultures. This seven-piece ensemble delicately blends instrumentation from across the globe in a uniquely American context. The uncommon use of the hammered dulcimer melodically leads many of the groups instrumental pieces, followed by the resonance of various acoustic instruments and a brooding foundation of heavy percussion. Layers of orchestral strings and sparse vocals create a cinematic appeal to the otherwise raw expression of musical composition.

Songs of Water has independently released two full-length albums to date which have been met with considerable praise. The band has been featured on NPR's "The State of Things", Fiona Richie's "Thistle & Shamrock", and WNCW's Music Mix with Martin Anderson. Reaching across the ocean, music from the band's sophomore release, "The Sea Has Spoken", has been aired on the U.K. radio show "Reach On Air".

Songs of Water has performed on Michael Johnathan's WoodSongs Old Time Radio Show in Lexington, KY, The LEAF Festival in Black Mountain, NC, and Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, and has shared the stage with artists such as bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs, John Mark McMillan, Sounds Familyr recording artists Ben + Vesper, Beats Antique and Aradhna.

Band Members