Recorded during Winter storm Atlas September, 2014
Throughout much of the recording, Billy was stationed at an heirloom upright piano made of seasoned walnut and graced with a dogeared pad of paper. A conductor with his back turned, the band often followed subtle cues as Billy counted off or orchestrated string parts with Emma and Eliza.
Moving between acoustic and electric guitar, adding passages of cascading electric or weaving strummed rhythms to the cadence at hand, Ryan helped build layers to the recording, adding trombone parts and numerous backing vocals.
Contributing some spirited mandolin and playful lilting harmonies with Ryan, Eva added a critical ingredient from day one, helping to turn the corner on a number of songs, taking them in unexpected directions. Her sense of humor was in many ways another instrument in the mix.
Tracking with steady acoustic guitar and a barrel-chested bass voice, this Jerde also entertained the out-of-town crew with his knowledge of the landscape and the realities of ranching for a living. Sustainable pastures are part of his wheelhouse.
Several of the songs on "Unkindness" took an unexpected turn from Emma's sinewy fiddle lines pushing melodies in new directions. The senior Jerde often dances while she plays, and the band moves with her groove.
Bringing banjo and fiddle to several songs as a multi-instrumentalist, and combining her plaintive and powerful vocal presence, Eliza added intrigue, depth and a vintage warmth to the songwriting. Her training as a classical violinist adds an structure to her sound that works exceptionally well on this recording.
Working from Billy's left hand, Jeff lays down a bass framework, and added some falsetto backup with Ryan and the Jerdes on several tracks. Jeff played Billy's 62' red P-Bass and the Crazy Horse Bassman set-up. That sound has a place across many musical genres.
Conjuring Levon Helm's work from 'Big Pink', this record captures some of Steph's most sensitive playing to date. Vaudeville rhythm and snaky snare fills punctuate the dynamics as he breathes the band forward.