Finding a richer sound

  • Eavesdrop Contributed photo

For the Recorder
Published: 3/5/2021 4:58:40 PM

Since forming in 2014, the band Eavesdrop has been on an evolving musical journey. Singer Kara Wolf said that on their new self-titled release the group has finally found its true sound.

Hailing from Northampton, the group features Wolf, Kerrie Bowden and Laura Buchanan on vocals, Sturgis Cunningham on drums, Jared Quinn on guitar and Marc Seedorf, who also produced the album, on bass.

The eponymously titled disc, “Eavesdrop,” features 10 sharply written and produced tracks that find the group moving their Americana folk-pop sound forward with richer and bolder textures. Eavesdrop continues to be defined by the strong vocals of the three leading women and the way they blend their voices, but this album, with its intricate arrangements and a fuller, polished sound, is very much a band album.

It’s different in that there is less acoustic guitar featured and a lot more electric, as well as being chock full of the kind of ear-grabbing hooks that will have us singing along.

Eavesdrop initially formed as a vocal trio singing cover songs in local venues. All three women are Pioneer Valley natives who grew up surrounded by music and drawn to singing.

After connecting on the local music scene, Buchanan and Wolf discovered they had great vocal chemistry and started singing covers together at events like weddings. Buchanan eventually suggested that her old friend, Kerrie Bowden, who she had sung with in a vocal group called the Silver Linings, would be a perfect third harmony.

“The first night I met Kerrie was at a rehearsal,” recalled Wolf of the group’s formation.

When they formed Eavesdrop, their main objective was to have a good time singing some of their favorite songs, but over time, audience members started asking if they had a CD available.

Performing original material was never part of the plan, but since there was an interest they decided to try writing some songs — thus began their collaborative approach to songwriting which is the manner that they continue to write.

“Kerrie, Laura and I always do these songwriting retreats where we go to this house in Beckett and for three days we unplug and we write a bunch of songs,” said Wolf in a recent phone interview. “It’s our favorite thing to do. We drink a lot of wine, eat a lot and write songs — and we don’t leave.”

The band’s first EP, a folk album called “The Afterglow,” was released in 2016. The band played steadily following the album, accompanied by acoustic guitar and a stompbox.

Over time, the group members started to envision their songs being played by a full band. So by the time they recorded their full-length debut, “Tides” in 2017, the trio had evolved into a six-piece band, yet their harmony-laced music remained predominantly acoustic-based.

Wolf stressed that one difference with the new album as compared to their previous release was that the songs were developed slowly over time and took shape in a live setting.

Eavesdrop has become a first-rate live act that performs throughout the northeast. The group was averaging a show a week before the pandemic hit and in the four years between albums, they had a chance to settle in with the band.

“These guys get us and they get our music. They are the best of the best to us and they are like family,” said Wolf, adding that the entire band was involved with all aspects of making the record. “When we had ideas for the record, we brought them to the guys and they had a lot of creative input and helped us shape these songs by adding different parts, so it’s really a partnership.”

And this partnership has impacted the trio’s songwriting.

“I’m thinking about the shape of the song, the instrumentation and what will the guitar sound like and where will the hook be or how will the drums affect this,” she explained. “This is why these songs sound a little different — because we were thinking from it from that lens, which with the last album, we didn’t do that with the writing.”

“Eavesdrop” was recorded at Ghost Hit Recording in West Springfield.

Fortunately, the studio, which is located in an old church, is very large and the group could safely record during the pandemic. They took their time making the record, wanting to make sure that they got everything just right.

And they sure did get it right.

“Eavesdrop” is a triumph of a band not afraid to take it up a notch. The tunes are infectious, the vocals soar and the musicianship and production are top rate.

The group's many influences weave in and out.

“Where You Left Me (Nothing’s Changed)” is a country rocker that brings to mind the Pistol Annies and features a great guitar solo from Jared Quinn, one of the many featured on this disc. “Shadows” is reminiscent of the easy rock sounds of Fleetwood Mac, while “The Great Escape,” has an almost southern rock vibe.

Guest keyboardist Darby Wolf (Rubblebucket, The Bomb Squad), who plays on a number of tracks, adds some nice, soulful organ to “Settled In,” while Cunningham’s driving drums lead the way on “Wait Up.”

The contributions of the band’s talented musicians, who are some of the area’s finest, take these songs to the next level. And the voices of Wolf, Bowden and Buchanan shine as they create beautiful harmonies and alternately share lead vocals.

Even the lyrics are more upbeat than the previous release, which is evident on the first single, "Cheers," an uplifting song about letting go of the past

Then there’s the touching love song, “My Love,” that Wolf wrote for her husband, but finds too emotional to sing on stage — so she has Bowden handle the vocals.

“I think this album in general is a little more optimistic. We used to joke that we didn’t have any happy songs because there was a lot of heartache and we were writing about past experiences and struggles we had,” Wolf said, adding that now everyone is in a good place and a lot of that speaks to their journey as a band.

Eavesdrop can’t wait to hit the road, but full band shows aren’t happening quite yet. They are, however, booking some trio shows, and since Eavesdrop can’t host a formal record release concert they are going to host a virtual listening party on Facebook so tune in on Sunday, March 7 at 6 p.m. They’ll be playing new tunes and answering questions from viewers.

The band is excited for listeners to hear this new album as this is the music they have been wanting to make for quite some time.

“The reason we called it ‘Eavesdrop’ is that this is finally what we should sound like — this is us,” said Wolf. “We have finally found our sound.”

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at soundslocal@yahoo.com.




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