The road to Golden Shoals has been a long, fruitful journey for Amy Alvey and Mark Kilianski. The duo has toured on foot—gig to gig with backpacks and instrument cases—for weeks at a time; called Asheville, Boston, California, and New Jersey home; and lived in various moving vehicles on the road for the past seven years under different names and incarnations. After all of that, their new self-titled record, Golden Shoals, represents a fresh start for Alvey and Kilianski; one that is more inclusive of the inspirations they’ve taken in since beginning their musical journey. Out August 7th via Free Dirt Records, Golden Shoals contains twelve new songs which examine love and loss, personal growth, and political strife; all through an inward-facing lens and void of pretense or preachiness. Today, American Songwriter premiered “Love From Across The Border,” a rollicking, slide-guitar laden ode to empathy and righting the wrongs of the past. “Love From Across The Border” can be heard here and Golden Shoals can be pre-ordered here until its August 7th release.
Engineered and mixed by Matt Lohan and produced by Lohan, Alvey, and Kilianski, Golden Shoals features only one additional musician; Landon George’s upright bass and drums. Together, the aforementioned musicians wove a bright and intricate tapestry from only four threads. Golden Shoals opens with “Everybody’s Singing,” a straightforward country swing tune about some not so straightforward personalities. Alvey and Kilianski proclaim the song “celebrates and rolls eyes at the wacky people and places we encounter as touring folk musicians—friends and contemporaries in cowboys costumes, white jumpsuits, and punk rock mullets; house parties, hotel conferences, and bluegrass bands playing ‘80’s songs.”
The album ebbs and flows from the joyfully ironic opening track all the way to more emotional and understated tunes like “I’ll Fall In Love Again”; a gentle lament about wanting to be more than friends, to no avail. “Rather than cutting off our friendship, we worked through those difficult feelings, became better friends for it, and I moved on to new loves,” says Kilianski. “A couple of years after its inception, the song adopted a twist ending, turning the cliche country song trope of unrequited love on its head.” The album closes with “Sittin’ Pretty,” an incredibly self-aware take on the guilt and anxiety that bubble up when coming to grips with one’s born-with-it privilege. “The song ‘Sittin’ Pretty’ speaks to the powerlessness I feel when reading the news about the troubling issues in our society like wealth inequality, climate change, and school shootings,” says Alvey. “When touring full time, the thought of joining a protest march or becoming active in local politics feels impossible when most days you’re figuring out where you’re going to sleep that night after the show.”
The clever touch Golden Shoals leave on their songs is what sticks with listeners; a twist at the end, a smart rehashing of radio-hit lyrics, the upbeat but heavy introspective looks into the mirror. Their musical journey seems to have hit its stride, especially as Alvey and Kilianski dig in, unpack, and reevaluate their own stories, observations, trials, and successes. Their compassionate and thoughtful songwriting takes center stage in this new chapter of the band, while their undeniable musicianship continues to uplift and inspire the project. For this patient, tenacious band, the Shoals are indeed Golden, and ripe for more great music to come.
For more information, please visit goldenshoals.com.