The Sea The Sea … A Magical First Album Debut
On November 9, 2013 Chuck E. Costa and Mira Stanley, two musicians based in Connecticut with a dotted line to West Virginia, who travel around and make beautiful music together, sent me a copy of their new album Love We Are We Love. This was not unsolicited. Last February I had written about seeing them as they were in the process of recording at the Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, and mentioned that I couldn’t wait to hear the recording process evolution. They remembered. They sent me the album. And this is the note I sent them right back:
Dear Chuck and Mira,
What a gift for a cloudy Saturday afternoon in the valley. And as luck would have it, I’m sitting at the computer going through some of my favorite albums that I’ve discovered this past year and now, as if by magic, I’ve found the first of my favorites for 2014.
Of the 27 minutes of your music that I’ve listened to so far, I can only say that this is simply a beautiful set of music. I’m so pleased you thought of me to share this with, and you’ve put a smile on my face. While I’m sort of an anti-review type of writer, focusing more on artist profiles like I did about you guys earlier this year, a story always writes itself when I have a soundtrack like this to guide me.
Be well..and congratulations on this.
Flash forward to four months later and their publicist sends me a bio, press release, cover art and a very artistic photo collage. I read the release and say to myself “Darn..someone has already written about them here on the website.” The beautifully understated quote credited to ‘No Depression’ that they’ve chosen to use as sort of the headline in the release reads: “On top of well-crafted songs, commanding stage presence and instrumental abilities, their voices in close harmony evoked for me a sound landing somewhere between Bowling Green and Bakersfield.” Pure poetry. I searched the site for the author. It was me. Sigh.
I’d like to play a song for y’all now…one that I think is one of the prettiest duets I’ve yet to come across.
Larry Groce, the host of NPR’s Mountain Stage:
“I first met Mira Stanley — half of The Sea, The Sea and co-writer of “Watertreader” — when she was about 8. Her father, Ron Sowell, is the leader of the Mountain Stage Band, so she was often backstage. I decided to let young Mira and a friend “audition” once, and they were very serious. I told them, “Don’t call us — we’ll call you,” but 20 years later, I did. By that time, she had a new friend in Chuck E. Costa. The two aren’t well-known at present, but they’re about to release their first album, produced by Todd Sickafoose (of Ani DiFranco fame). Their harmonies remind me of The Milk Carton Kids and The Weepies, with feather-light production which includes the obscure glass harmonica. I love the central image of “Watertreader,” as well as the song’s ability to evoke the feeling of suspended animation we sometimes experience in our lives and loves.”
While it’s very true that I have a warm spot in my heart for young musicians who have chosen to follow a path that many, including myself, thought was a dead end after the music business crash of the mid-2000’s, that alone doesn’t make me want to spend my Sunday afternoon sitting here writing about this new album. No. There’s got to be more. And Chuck and Mira have a unique set of circumstances that have aligned to make me a huge fan. First, they seem to be very nice people. I like nice people. Second, they have a sound, especially on stage, that is different than anything else I’ve come across. It’s not just that close harmony witchcraft of theirs, it’s the entire package of melody, chords, the touch of the strings and the delicate layers of percussion. This album is special because in each song recorded, they’ve captured it. And most important, it’s the way they look at each other and smile when everything comes together. Those are the moments they’ll remember forever. And the moments that I want to experience when sitting in the audience.
The new album will be released on February 25th, just 387 days after I first heard, heard about and actually heard of The Sea The Sea. They’ll be presenting it ‘officially’ to the people who can help them take the next step in their journey at this winter’s Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City. I’m happy we have an organization like FAI, and glad that they have evolved into the powerhouse in acoustic and roots music that they’ve become. (In addition to having Graham Nash as keynote speaker this year, they’ve also wisely included special presentations from Tom Rush, and President-Elect-But-Stolen Al Gore who, as many of you know, invented folk music in addition to the internet.) All that aside, Mira and Chuck will be playing a whole bunch of showcases in KC. If you’re there, go see them. If you’re not, buy their album when it’s available. Here. And support live music…they’re playin’ all over…go here and check it out.