After years of producing music as indie artists, the folk/pop husband and wife duo Jenny & Tyler finally signed onto an upstart record label, Residence Music. This new venture has allowed for a rich re-imagining of their traditional style, catapulting their acoustic sound into a territory that only elevates their excellent songwriting.
Having completed a successful Kickstarter last summer, which helped fund a tour and their live album, Jenny and Tyler spent their fall touring with fellow Nashville songwriter, Jillian Edwards. Also on the tour were the couple’s two little ones, Sarah (five months) and Jane (two years), who apparently really love traveling in their parents’ “tour bus” — a refurbished van complete with sweet speakers and a coffee maker. Who wouldn’t, right?
“They’re awesome,” boasted Jenny. “Touring with kids is way more intense, but having them with us is so worth it.”
Jenny & Tyler’s latest project, “Of This I’m Sure” (released 10/15), is a compilation of love songs–to themselves, to God, to their daughters and the wayward people in their lives. With a sound that subtly blurs the genres of folk, pop, Celtic, and even a hint of film score, the whole album kind of sounds like you’re caught in a daydream. It’s probably because their new full-band instrumentation (produced by Gabe Scott) evokes an ethereal mood with lots of pads and strings. You also might catch yourself swaying back and forth a lot, either due to the heavily-sea-influenced imagery or the waltz time signatures. I asked Jenny to explain this:
“We just identify with the ocean so much. Tyler grew up going to the beach every summer, and I grew up loving the ocean. We can kind of look at love as being a lot like the ocean–it can be beautiful, it can be mysterious, it can be dangerous, it can be difficult to understand–and we just felt like that really embodied the idea of the record.”
The final track, “To the Sea,” serves as a beautiful ending to the album as a whole. Written after one of the two songwriters went on a paddling excursion, the piece swells with pads and a hypnotic piano motif, then exits gracefully, leaving listeners to be at peace–much like the last scene of The Return of the King does as it fades to white.
The album a nice blend of louder, worshipful anthems and gentle, lullaby-like reveries. Some of the songs capture just a single moment, such as “Fly Away” about baby Jane falling asleep and “You Are a Song,” a reminiscence of when Jenny and Tyler first fell in love.
One notable track is “In Everything You Do,” co-written with Jillian Edwards. It’s about the desire to shield children from the pain of life, but ultimately not being able to and, instead, trying to walk with them through it, in love.
I wish that I could keep you from pain
But like the storm
Pain will form
But I’ll teach you how to face it
To be weak, yet strong in grace
Another track that parallels others thematically is “My Dear One,” an emotional anthem giving voice to the pain of having to let somebody dear go his or her own way. When asked about whether the song was written with a particular face in mind or merely as a tool for others, Jenny replied:
“This record was essentially written for our daughters and then for this other person in our life that we just have a really hard relationship with. It’s someone that’s just so dear to us, so close to us, and they just walked away from the relationship with us and really from a relationship with anyone. So we write a lot of songs about this person because it’s such a central part of our life right now… We’ve tried to help this person so many times, and no one can really help them until they’re really ready for it. And we really discovered, especially on tour, that a lot of people have someone in their life like that. I think that there’s hope in all the songs, and that’s what we’re trying to communicate to others who [are] in that same situation: don’t lose heart; keep hoping and praying and… hopefully this relationship will be restored, even if it takes years and years and years.”
If you’ve ever wondered what a typical Jenny & Tyler show looks like, expect passionate harmonies and a quirky mix of instruments, including drums, keys, electric guitar, banjo, cello, bass, and now electric mandolin. Jenny’s dad actually handmade most of the guitars and mandolins they played in the past, which she described as being “such a gift. We haven’t bought an instrument in like 10 years or so!” She went on to say that “because we used to play so much ourselves, Tyler had this whole little percussion set-up and was and doing all sorts of stuff with his feet–almost like a Dick Van Dyke one-man band. I think it’s been really freeing for him to not have to do that anymore.” With the greater production now, and the chance to tour with a live band, the couple is grateful to have such a stellar group of musicians playing alongside them every night. “We feel like the songs deserve them.”
This fall, you can find Jenny and Tyler playing in select cities with Jillian Edwards. They’ll probably be listening to Taylor Swift on the road or Justin Timberlake.
“Taylor Swift is certainly a guilty pleasure. And I don’t think it even necessarily needs to be a guilty pleasure. She’s just fantastic. So, yeah, she’s someone we listen to on road trips and stuff. And we love Justin Timberlake. Old 90’s music? That’s our jam a lot of the time.”
Visit Jenny & Tyler’s official website for tour dates, and check out their singles, “When I Meet You” (a whimsical lullaby) and “Song For You” (a more energetic anthem). You can also visit their Facebook page for more personal updates, house show videos, and acoustic covers of T-Swift and some of those 90’s favorites.
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