It’s the first week of May and it’s approaching 90 degrees here in New York City. After a bitter winter, the entire city is humming with joy and excitement. It’s been a real treat seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces and the bright colors on everyone’s bodies. It’s the perfect time to throw on The Underhill Family Orchestra’s new album Tell Me That You Love Me. The Mobile-based collective has an intense and irresistable chemistry. The songs on this album are full of chemical reactions that are a pleasure to be hold. Truly, the album is a testament to the power of people working together.
The recording process marked a first for the band—working with a producer, Los Angeles-based Noah Shain, who helped the group realize its musical vision. “It was wonderful. It’s like you’re adding another person to the band,” says Laney. “You’re saying ‘Hey, what do you think about this?’ to someone whose only vested interest is making a record. We were okay letting him take the reins. Noah is a drummer, and he was able to help out with Joe and Roy, who are already militant about how they work together,” he laughs. “They’re an amazing rhythm section, they’re so smart and are a really important part of our sound, and Noah picked up on that right away,” he adds. “It was a unique experience, and we were grateful.”
Opening track “Oak Holler” is a three-minute introduction to the timbre of the album; the anthem firmly plants the band’s flag in a landscape of harmony crafted through diversity and features all of the band members’ voices swirling at its conclusion. “That’s a super real Underhill moment,” recalls Laney. “There’s something visceral about a group of people singing the same words.” At the end of the album version of track “When The Trumpet Sounds,” Joelle’s grandmother, Maw Maw Ida, recounts the story of the day before her husband’s death. “She was telling us an embattled but sentimental story, and I saw so much art in that. When we were tracking the vocals with Noah in Los Angeles, he asked us how we wanted to end the song and I set the phone down and played that clip. Joelle was in tears, Noah was quiet, it was a nice moment for all of us,” says Laney. “I saw this vision I had for the track really affect people.” The song was a therapeutic one to write and employs religious imagery to illustrate a call to reunite with a loved one, an idea that lends itself to not only the literal, but to the metaphysical as well.
“It’s like a punch in the gut. That’s what music is all about, it’s not pretty all the time,” he continues. “Art is about making a statement about something you care about that other people might care about too. That’s the whole business of it, isn’t it?”