On The Music Scene
Wake Up To New Reveille
With their new album The Keep, Raleigh band New Reveille is poised for an Americana breakout.
By Bryan C. Reed
Photography by Jeremy Danger
If you’re not already familiar with New Reveille, odds are good that you’re about to be.
Already familiar with local stages, the band is poised for a major breakout with its new album, The Keep, out in September. The band’s origins, however, weren’t nearly as auspicious.
Remembering the process that led to 2013’s self-released debut, Cannonball, band founder Daniel Cook says, “I started making it without knowing who the band was. I call it a bedroom producer project.”
But what began as a “learning experience” and a chance for Cook to experiment with a new instrument, the banjo, quickly blossomed into a steady band. Singer Amy Kamm joined Cook after responding to a Craigslist ad. Violinist Autumn Brand and cellist Kaitlin Grady were called in as session players, but ended up permanent members. Guitarist George Hage, also of Jack the Radio, would later join as well, bringing another new dimension to the group.
So when the time came to record The Keep, the band was operating with a more collaborative approach and a close-knit chemistry that is audible in the recording. At Ocean Way Nashville Recording Studios, under the guidance of Grammy-winning producer Ben Fowler, the band took its songs to new heights. Fowler called in session aces like drummer Fred Eltringham and keyboardist Gordon Mote to buttress the band’s dynamics, and guided the process to let the band focus solely on their performance in the studio.
“The foundation for this record was laid down in a live recording environment, afforded by having the right team and being at the right location with a great board, amazing mics, and amazing engineers,” Cook says. “It came off the board sounding better than anything I ever was able
And not only does it sound good, it also displays a poise in performance and a broad eclecticism that only feels more confident for its studio dressing. The band steers freely from old-time banjo runs to smoldering country balladry, deep blues rock to lush chamber pop. Lead single “Hounds” effectively absorbs the band’s divergent influences, crashing a heavy blues riff into a rollicking banjo-fiddle reel before Kamm commands the spotlight with a vocal that lends gravitas to the song’s seismic dynamics.
It’s a fitting intro to the album, which travels easily toward the fringes of mainstream country for the plaintive “Miracle” and “Worn Sunglasses,” and just as easily jumps into dark-hued blues-rock on “Babylon” and new-school bluegrass on “Sandy Rowe.”
To be fair, Cannonball displayed the same wide-ranging approach to a broadly defined Americana sound.
But, for all that album’s many strengths, it pales in comparison to The Keep’s reinvigorated arrangements, powerful production, and lived-in chemistry among players.
Having spent enough time playing together to encourage open collaboration, Cook says, allowed the band to experiment more in the studio and bring fresh ideas into the songs right up to the moment they were recorded. The result of this spontaneity is an album that has all the freshness and urgency of its predecessor, balanced by a tight-knit chemistry that can only come from operating as a fully formed band rather than a loose project. It’s hard to imagine audiences won’t respond to it.
“I’m really interested to see who this clicks with,” Cook says. “A couple of the songs almost took on a Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac kind of vibe that we didn’t see coming at all. Hopefully there will be something for everyone with this record.”
And in an Americana scene that embraces anything from Sturgill Simpson and Kacey Musgraves to The Avett Brothers and Delta Rae, it seems inevitable that New Reveille will find its place among these luminaries. To wit, the band has already booked strong spots at Raleigh’s Groove in the Garden and the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass festival, as well as Americanafest in Nashville and the North Carolina State Fair.
For New Reveille, it’s an opportunity to flex its versatility. Whether playing as a string band or with a rhythm section in tow and amps turned loud, Cook says, the song is what ought to stand out. “They say a good song can be played in any genre, with any instrumentation, and maintain its integrity,” he says. “That’s what we were focused on, just making good songs. Everything we do is in service to the songs.”
It’s an old school sentiment, perhaps, but it seems likely to drive New Reveille to new heights.