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The Krickets are Amanda Kolb, Katrina Kolb, Emily Stuckey and Lauren Spring.
Band: The Krickets
Date: Friday, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m.
Venue: The Book Cellar at Page & Palette, 32 S. Section St. (Fairhope), pageandpalette.com
Tickets: $25, available through Eventbrite
Three years ago, a quartet of instrumental and vocal talent from along the Gulf Coast united in the name of charity under the name The Krickets. This relatively impromptu performance created a bond between these four artists, one that drove Lauren Spring, Emily Stuckey, Melissa Bowman and Katrina Kolb to gather songs for an album from their respective collections of original material.
After a highly successful crowdfunding campaign, The Krickets retreated to Muscle Shoals with producer Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes) and laid down tracks for their debut album, “Spanish Moss Sirens.” The group’s wholesome brand of traditional country and folk laced with blissful harmonies swept the Americana world, earning the group public acclaim as well as an Independent Music Award for Folk Song of the Year.
Now The Krickets are back with their sophomore effort,“Redbird.” With the opening track “I Am Strong,” The Krickets’ warm folk and impeccable harmonies echo the first album. As the album progresses, it begins to make a slight departure from the traditional sounds that won the group acclaim.
“Redbird” is filled with round after round of quality alt. country and contemporary folk anthems held together by the group’s harmonies. All the while, layers of various instruments build the album’s sonic foundation. While this is a departure from the raw, organic sounds of “Spanish Moss Sirens,” this sophomore album showcases the band’s musical development, which Stuckey says was the group’s goal.
“We wanted to make this album a little more mature than the first one,” said Stuckey. “With the first one, Ben Tanner wanted us to record the way that we play and sound at our everyday shows. We wanted to develop and sound mature.”
One aspect that made this album different is the songwriting process. Because of the short amount of time they had to create “Spanish Moss Sirens,” the members had to pull and review tracks from their respective catalogs. According to Stuckey and Spring, the creation of the tracks for “Redbird” started off as a collaborative songwriting effort between the members. Springs says the band’s dip into the alternative forms of Americana came early in the process.
“Once we had some time to dig into the music and feel what it was gonna be, all of us pulled into that Americana direction from the traditional folk direction,” said Spring. “We love the first album, but I’m listening to Jason Isbell and Brandi Carlile and Margo Price. That’s the kind of music that we all enjoy, and I think the music took a turn towards what we were listening to.”
“There were so many different perspectives coming together,” Stuckey added. “Each of us come from different backgrounds. Katrina grew up playing bluegrass with her family. She came from that world and brought that influence to the table. Lauren brought a country flavor to the mix. I don’t really know what my background is; I think I’m a little bit of folk and country. Melissa has more of a rock style.”
In addition to collaborative songwriting, Stuckey and Spring said producer Sam Ashworth played a major role in creating the album’s overall sound. Initially, The Krickets wanted Ashworth’s father, Charlie Peacock, to produce the album. Peacock’s extensive career includes working with such acts as the Civil Wars, Amy Grant and Chris Cornell. After another very successful crowdfunding campaign, The Krickets approached Peacock, whose schedule would not let him commit to the album, but he suggested the band contact his son.
“When I researched Sam a little bit, he did Joy Williams’ [Civil Wars] record after the Civil Wars broke up,” Spring said. “He produced Holly Williams and another band that I love, The Lone Bellow. He wrote one of my favorite songs with them. After that, we reached out to him, and he was just really cool. I don’t think our budget is what he was used to working with, but he really wanted to make it work.”
When the band arrived in Nashville, The Krickets came well-rehearsed with a collection of demo tracks for Ashworth to reference. For “Spanish Moss Sirens,” Spring said, Tanner’s production method consisted of capturing a clean recording of the band’s natural performance. Ashworth, however, took a different approach, sifting through each song and using the tracks as building blocks for a new vision. After reworking the arrangements, Ashworth began to layer the songs with various instruments and percussion.
“I was 100 percent in love with the production on this album,” said Spring. “I think Sam just knocked it out of the park with the quality of his production. There’s all kinds of stuff on there. There’s super traditional, old-school country. There’s the happy, commercial folk. There’s bleeding heart Americana. The common thread is the vocals, which pulled everything together. Once I heard the final product, I couldn’t have been happier.”
The reworked studio tracks have brought new challenges for The Krickets. After releasing the album, Spring and Stuckey say the all-acoustic group spent time relearning the songs for the live environment. However, Stuckey says the band’s new “mature” sound has been opening doors to new venues.
The past year has also brought the departure of Bowman. Talented multi-instrumentalist Amanda Kolb (sister of Katrina Kolb) took time from teaching guitar at Picker’s Paradise to step into Bowman’s place. According to Stuckey, the lineup changes and new tracks maintain The Krickets’ close relationship with their fans. Spring says she’s also enjoyed performing these tracks live with her bandmates.
“I’ve heard a lot of them [fans] say that they loved the first album because it was much more stripped down,” said Stuckey. “With this one, I’ve heard a lot of people say that there’s something for everybody on this album. There’s a little country, a little folk and a little bluegrass too, which is cool.”
“We have had the most fun with this record,” Spring added. “I don’t know if the more collaborative writing style was the key to really enjoy and perform it. It’s just been exciting. I feel myself hanging on my bandmates’ instrument notes and lyrics. It’s just a wonderful feeling.”
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