Rising Stars [Issue
Meeting Peter [Adams]
was a huge awakening, and I think that he has opened a lot of doors creatively
for me because of his musicianship and the way he writes," says Kat Maslich
of the duo Eastmountainsouth.
Based in Los Angeles
but firmly rooted in Dixie, Eastmountainsouth are creating quite a buzz in the
music industry with their rich vocal harmonies, unconventional rhythms, and
haunting lyrics in the exciting revival of Americana. With the success and popularity
of the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack more and more people
are being exposed to this uniquely American genre. "We didn't set out for
this record to be a bluegrass record, or an Americana record or pop record.
It just became a hybrid of all those," states Maslich.
Their self-titled debut features songs of love and loss. "Winter"
speaks to unconditional love. Maslich sings, "I never meant to swallow
you. You never were my savior. Maybe just my lover. Maybe and nothing more.
Now one more winter has passed so silently and I'm tired of longing, would you
come back to me?"
On "On Your Way" co-written by Joshua Meltzer, Adams sings about loving
someone so much and letting them go. "Oh the night's reflecting on our
chance connecting. I hope they find the meaning of the life I had with you.
Wish I heard when you said that your heart could not break. It was my decision
to send you on your way."
One of the most unique songs is "Rain Come Down," whose verse melody
is inspired by an African-American spiritual. It was sung during heavy rains,
which was the only times the slaves could stop working. Haunting instrumentation,
beautiful vocals and distinctive drumming make this the most memorable song
on the album.
Raised in the Virginia towns of Roanoke and Clinch Mountain (home of country
music legend Ralph Stanley), Maslich was largely influenced by her musical parents
and developed a deep affinity for bluegrass although it wouldn't emerge until
years later. Her rebellious youth included various punk and hardcore bands but
her true love was for the gentle music that she associated with her Southern
grandparents. She moved to LA at age 21, worked odd jobs and played locally
with various musicians. "Too Soon," a song about leaving home at an
early age was co-written by Kat and her twin sister Amy. It tells the story
about leaving their mother to pursue their dreams and the sadness and guilt
they felt, yet all the while knowing that their experience was making their
mother happy and proud. Determined to make it, she caught the eye of then television
music composer Peter Adams who was casting a spot for which Maslich auditioned.
He liked her voice so well that he caught one of her live performances and subsequently
asked her to sing on a demo he was pitching to Nashville.
Although he earned a master's degree from the University of Alabama's School
of Music, Adams was discontent in the academic classical realm and found joy
and comfort in the music of his roots. Wishing to be an artist, he began writing
his own songs and after combining Maslich's homegrown sensibilities with his
own formally trained skill, the two produced some demos. They caught the attention
of Robbie Robertson who was so impressed he immediately signed the duo to Dreamworks.
Mitchell Froom (Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, Crowded House) entered the picture
and along with Adams co-produced the self-titled album, artfully capturing Eastmountainsouth's
rich vocal and instrumental harmonies as well as the personal harmony between
Adams' and Maslich's musical style. Maslich states, "I'm not taking anything
away from the people that I've worked with before, but I think Pete was so up
my alley in a sense. When he came to me with a couple of songs, I realized that
this was the person I wanted to work with."