July 26--As the first track to Joy Kills Sorrow's new EP "Wide Awake" hits, a few things become clear.
This is no generic bluegrass band seeking attention in the wake of The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons. They're too talented musically and their style blurs way too many lines to just be following those groups blindly.
Instead, the track, "Was It You," shows off an incredible guitar-based sound that fills in and around singer Emma Beaton's incredibly powerful and rich voice. It is almost a pop song, but with an undeniable nod to Americana roots along with a million other genres you can't quite place.
Based in Boston, the group is currently touring in support of "Wide Awake," stopping in Cheyenne Friday at the Terry Bison Ranch. Guitarist Matthew Arcara said most people he talks with have a hard time truly pinning down their sound, and that's OK with him.
"We try to avoid labels where we can, but that is really more of there not being a label we are comfortable with," he said. "Everyone in this group listens to a lot of different music, and I think that all filters down to the recordings and live sets and that's where this blend we have comes from."
In music industry terms, the band is still young. They have three records to their name, with the last two getting label distribution. Still, they have earned great reviews, gaining fans from touring as well as an appearance on "A Prairie Home Companion."
Arcara said this EP was made up of songs the group felt were too strong to save for an album down the line. With seven tracks, it is a bit long for an EP, Arcara said.
"We were unsure what the plan was for the record at the time and we thought these went well together," he said. "We wanted to get them out sooner rather than later."
One of the tracks on the EP is a cover of the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights." Originally covered by Iron and Wine, Joy Kill Sorrow's version is just as personal, with an interesting blend of acoustic instruments playing digitally created music.
"We recorded that with the hopes of giving our listeners a lens to see our music. To sort of explain how we are into indie music and other genres but are still true to that bluegrass style as well," Arcara said.
Arcara said the group was planning on recording a full-length record sometime in the fall or winter.
"It may be kind of different from this stuff because we always get bored and want to mix it up, but for the most part, we just want to keep exploring the textures and themes on this EP," he said. "We just don't like the idea of getting into a habit."
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