As the world around them shut down and shuddered because of the pandemic and the troubled political landscape, husband-and-wife duo Waterfield and Fielder did what they do best: They wrote poignant and emotionally soaring songs that not only capture the jagged despair growing out of social and cultural division but also evoke the resilience of the human spirit. In May, the couple retreated to Doe Bay Resort in Washington State for a residency, and Fielder set up a stripped-down studio, creating the spare beauty and ethereal spacious sound of the album. They even captured the music of the world around them — the songs of the birds that open the album — illustrating the seamlessness of music.
Shimmering guitar chords and soaring vocals open the album’s first track, “Let There Be,” and blossom into a spiraling cadence that’s wrapped in tendrils of hope. Fielder’s lead lines on the instrumental bridge echo Waterfield’s scat vocals, creating an inviting space for listeners to come together — “let us join hands / let us witness.” On “Burden of Fear,” cascading guitar chords and tremulous strings provide the lush foundation for Waterfield’s tender and consoling vocals, while “Thief” opens with a Tom Petty-like unspooling of guitar that leads into Waterfield’s haunting vocals. “Wrong Time State of Mind,” with its Beatles-esque sound frame, may be the best song on the album, showcasing the duo’s ability to weave together darting vocals and sparkling instrumentation. “Through the Falls” echoes the haunting and dreamy psychedelic folk of Fleetwood Mac’s Bare Trees or Fairport Convention and Spooky Tooth. The title track circles soulfully, ascending on shimmering guitar chords to a place where there is no more “trouble in time.”
Very simply, Trouble in Time is a beautiful album. Waterfield and Fielder create a spacious soundscape that jostles our hearts and souls and then soothes us with a palpable intimacy and an enduring hope and love that echoes long after the album’s last note.