“Barker is from Australia, Rubarth grew up in California and Speace is from Baltimore, but at times they can sound as if they spent their childhoods singing together around a family hearth in the Appalachians” – Richard Williams, The Blue Moment (UK)
Crosby, Stills & Nash; Simon & Garfunkel; The Everly Brothers; The Civil Wars; Gillian Welch & David Rawlings: some bands have voices that were just meant to sing together. Applewood Road is one of those bands.
A chance meeting in an East Nashville cafe during AmericanaFest led to Amy Speace, Emily Barker, and Amber Rubarth writing the song “Applewood Road,” the nugget of which came from a dream that Rubarth had. The trio booked an immediate session to lay it down at the analogue studio Welcome To 1979. Barker says, “We felt our voices blended naturally, and went away beaming with the joy of having created the song together.”
All three recognized the magic of that recording and plans were put in place to return to record a full-length album. Also entitled “Applewood Road,” the resulting thirteen-song set adds two bonus track for US release on Gearbox Records on July 14, 2017, including a stunning live cover of R.E.M.'s hit song "Losing My Religion."
“Applewood Road” music video (OK to share): https://www.youtube.
The album is chock full of highlights and each songwriter contributed several songs, including a co-write between Rubarth and frequent Norah Jones collaborator Adam Levy on the beautiful “To the Stars.” Rubarth explores our innate draw to both the familiar and the unknown on “Old Time Country Song.” Barker wrote songs in northern Europe, Nashville, and her native Australia for the project, including “Bring the Car Round,” inspired by the wildfires Down Under. Speace’s lullaby to her niece and nephew took a dark, more mature turn on “Josephine.”
Each of the songwriters has their own distinguished solo career: Speace was personally signed by Judy Collins; an NPR critic said, "Her velvety achey voice recalls an early Lucinda Williams." Speace was personally discovered by folk icon Judy Collins who signed her to her own record label and recorded her songs; she has been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered" and The New York Times writes “what Amy Speace says — what she sings — she says with a confluence of poetry and honesty, of emotional specificity." Many will know Barker’s music from the award-winning theme to PBS Masterpiece series “Wallander” starring Kenneth Branagh; her new album “Sweet Kind of Blue" was recorded in Memphis with Grammy-winning producer Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price). Rubarth has shared her songs from South Africa to Japan to Carnegie Hall, opening for legends like Emmylou Harris and Ralph Stanley; her new album 'Wildflowers in the Graveyard' releases early Autumn, followed by her acting debut starring in feature film “American Folk” (2018).
Here’s what UK press had to say about Applewood Road:
“****… a stunning country showcase of three gorgeous but markedly different voices.” – Q
“Flawless set that has to be the most haunting release of the past year... Unfailingly seductive and wistful.” – Sunday Times
“*****… There’s a moreish magic to the harmonies of this country-folk trio that recalls the vintage appeal of the Everlys and the Andrews” – Telegraph
“Truly gorgeous…” – Maverick Magazine
“*****… full of style, allure and artistry… likely to be in my top five albums this year.” – R2
“****… Sometimes things just seem meant to be… honey-harmonied wonder… magic.” – Record Collector
The album was recorded live, direct to tape, at Welcome to 1979 studio in Nashville with the performers gathered around a single microphone. Alongside the three band members, the album features contributions from Aaron Lee Tasjan, Josh Day, Fats Kaplin, Jabe Beyer, and Telisha Williams. It was mastered at Gearbox Records with vintage analogue equipment.