Posts Tagged ‘John Looney’

Behind The Scenes with Swift Silver

Swift Silver to Release Eponymous Album June 4, 2021
Songwriters Anna Kline and John Looney Hail in a New Era of Southern Rock and Soul

First Single: “Blackbird’s Refrain” Out Now!

“The organ on this will lift you up and the song itself will soar from there on Anna Kline’s vocals.  Think Grateful Dead’s ‘Masterpiece.’  ‘The higher you get the more you’ll see’ — isn’t that the truth.”–Americana Highways, Song Premiere of “Blackbird’s Refrain”

MT. STERLING, Ky.   Get swept away by Swift Silver’s big river of sound with their self-titled debut album due out June 4. Swift Silver marks a meaningful milestone for Southern songwriters Anna Kline and John Looney as a 180° (re)turn to their musical roots: the drawling tremolo of rhythm and blues, the redemptive strains of Southern gospel, and the twang of the rural soul.

From the moment the listener presses play; from the mid-tempo album opener, the vocally empowering “Belleville Blues,” to the last track, a reflective ballad, “Ain’t Wrecked Yet;Swift Silver celebrates the tenets of Southern sound. This is a collection of songs cultivated in the dim lights of listening rooms and local jams, regional festivals and side street bars, as well as alone in the woodshed or crafted as an ensemble.

Swift Silver is Anna Kline and John Looney

Kline’s vocal performances—on both lead and harmony—display an astonishing range of versatility and skill, her voice flows as smooth as a rippling river current. Looney gives a masterful performance on lead guitar, not only displaying his expertise as an integral sideman but also as a talented arranger, showcasing a finely-tuned ear for nuance and groove. Together, they drive the contagious electric surge of sound that is Swift Silver.

“This album speaks to the path we tread,” says Kline. It is lyrically insightful, eloquentand timely when examined through the lens of current events. “These songs help us navigate lingering questions we daily seek to answer, they pulsate with discovery, and melodically confess the hunger to right a few wrongs.”

This is exemplified in the lyrics of “Blackbird’s Refrain,” an energetic, Beatlesque track showcasing John’s slide guitar: “This world is coming alive to some strange times, we’ve got to bend and sway together.” 

“There were several months of quarantine under our belt already, and I was constantly chasing sunshine. Anytime we could get outside, we’d let the dogs play and soak it up. We always start to feel worn thin during the winter and long for warmer days ahead. And, with everything that was going on politically and pandemic-wise, we were really feeling the weight of it all.” Anna says, “The lyrics are a literal bird’s eye view—if a bird, circling above the world and surveyed the chaos we’re all currently living in, what would he have to say about it?”

With the chorus, “The higher you get, the more that you see,’ Anna says, “I’ve always loved how little revelations shift your mind’s eye to perceive nuance in life and situations. And, as a person who has dealt with the life-long struggles of depression and anxiety, these little shifts in consciousness have added up to completely change my life. This past decade I’ve been on a healing journey… and I have come out on the other side. Something I never thought I’d be able to do.”

Anna and John’s collaboration spans ten years of exploring the great expanse of the American songbook—touring, conspiring, songwriting—fused together by the Mississippi heat, molded in the mountain air of Western North Carolina, and flung free in the hills of Kentucky bluegrass. Swift Silver has an unmistakable sound conjured from an intense musical intimacy and this new album embodies a new era of Southern rock and soul.

Swift Silver was recorded at Fat Baby Studios in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, enlisting the help of brothers Kenny Miles and Hayden Miles (of Wayne Graham). Kenny and Hayden not only comprised the album band—adding bass lines, keys and organ fills, as well as a few harmonies— Kenny was also at the helm as engineer and co-producer. The album includes 8 original songs and an alluring cover of Carter Stanley’sThe Fields Have Turned Brown,” a purposeful nod to their lives as bluegrass musicians with some mighty powerful harmonies.

Other songs on the album include a not-so-average cheatin’ song, the country soul “We’ve Given Up On Us;” the guitar driven and vocally riveting homage to Memphis soul, “Looking Back;” and the reflective cosmic country waltz tune, “Tonight, Forever Yours.” 

The pondering song, “We All Get Our Turn,” has the lyrics, “We all get our turn… To be young and grow old… Asphalt or gravel… No, it don’t matter… How you got here, the road you traveled… Ask yourself who is your master? Is this the life you’ve been chasing after?

At the heart of the album, the high energy “Come On Home To Yourself,” steered by the fuzzed-out guitar lick that takes you back to Mississippi by way of Texas blues, is a love letter of sorts to “home.” Anna says, “I was inspired from the stories my parents told me about my kinfolk who settled in Mississippi in the 1800s. When I go home we visit the cemeteries where they are laid to rest. I also felt inspired to draw the parallel between myself and the Mississippi River to illustrate my progression and personal growth, and how constrained the river might feel as men have tried to forcefully control her path all these years, as she meandered and, ultimately, flows her own way.” 

She sings, “Fashioned out of the mud… From the Coldwater bottoms… Who wants to walk the Straight and narrow? Seek not to be reborn… Behold I am the pearl… Bent, bowed, undertow, journey on… Find your way back home.

More about Anna Kline and John Looney: 

For the majority of their band life, Anna and John were known as the bluegrass duo, Grits & Soul

With a history of major festivals and appearances under their belt—MerleFest, Bristol Rhythm and Roots, Suwannee Springfest & Magnolia Fest, Countryfest in Belgium —and a performance on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern—the time came where they felt led to explore new (and old) musical space. Thus, Swift Silver was born.

Anna comes from a line of several generations worth of musicians, singers, and artists. She grew up in Hernando, a small town between Memphis and the Mississippi Delta, and is a writer of both songs and Southern culture content. From Memphis Soul to Muscle Shoals and working in licensing at Malaco Records, her roots ring clear in her songwriting as well as her capabilities as a vocalist. 

John was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia and raised in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. He is a sought-after multi-instrumentalist (John R. Miller  & The Engine Lights, Wayne Graham) whose accompaniment on mandolin or guitar gives each song personality and a distinct groove. Drawing from the varied influences of his mountain music heritage, blues, and the diversity of the American songbook, John’s contributions—in both live performances and on recordings—are ear candy.

The pair met in Jackson, MS, in 2011 and wrote their first couple of songs together. The following year they decided to move to Asheville to play music full time where they stayed for five years before returning to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky in 2016. 

As collaborators and a couple, it’s all we’ve ever known. 2021 marks 10 years playing music and songwriting together.” Anna says, “We wrote our first few songs together and the course of our lives changed forever.”

Swift Silver Track listing and duration:

1. Belleville Blues 3:56

2. We’ve Given Up On Us 5:20

3. Looking Back 7:06

4. Tonight, Forever Yours 5:32

5. Come On Home To Yourself 5:26

6. The Fields Have Turned Brown 7:28

7. Blackbird’s Refrain 5:34

8. We All Get Our Turn 5:48

9. Ain’t Wrecked Yet  4:10

Players and Instrumentation:

Anna Kline: lead vocals, harmony vocals, acoustic guitar

John Looney: lead guitar, vocals

Kenny Miles: baritone guitar, bass, organ, harmony vocals

Hayden Miles: drums, keys

And special guest Chris Justice (Wayne Graham, John R. MIller): bass on “Looking Back”

Album Artwork by Joe King, logo and lettering by Grace Van’t Hof, album design by Zack Looney

Website: www.swiftsilvermusic.com 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/swiftsilvermusic  

Twitter: www.twitter.com/swiftsilverband 

Instagram: www.instagram.com/swiftsilvermusic 

Presave the Full Album, Swift Silver:  https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/swiftsilver/swift-silver

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Grits & Soul. Photo by Jenny Baumert.

Grits & Soul. Photo by Jenny Baumert.

An Evening with Grits & Soul at Isis Upstairs Lounge on Wed 8/12
$5, 5pm Door/ 7pm Show
General Admission Seated Lounge Show :: Limited Tables Available with Dinner Reservation
Seating without dinner reservation will be first come first serve
Call 828-575-2737 dinner reservations

At the heart of Grits & Soul are song-crafters Anna Kline and John Looney. Based in Asheville, North Carolina, they take the influences of mountain bluegrass and classic country and fuse it with those of Mississippi soul and blues.

On the heels of their 2013 MerleFest IBMA showcase and the release of their debut album, Flood Waters, the duo continues to attract the attention of audiences throughout the Southeast. Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine gave the team a glowing review, calling Flood Waters “intriguing and enveloping.” The recording highlights the collaboration of a gifted lyricist with a talented arranger, with a shared sensibility of stirring melodies and powerful story lines.

Since the release of Flood Waters, they received coveted invitations to perform at Merlefest, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, Albino Skunk Festival, and Suwannee Springfest, amongst others and recently opened for Jim Lauderdale at the Ingles 4th of July celebration downtown Asheville. Notable upcoming appearances include Magnolia Fest 2015 and Country Festival in Sint-Truiden, Belgium.

Grits & Soul are a memorable musical team with their voices blending together in seamless harmony. Their collaboration forges a powerful connection between hard-driving bluegrass, barroom honky tonk, Celtic, Southern gospel, and slow-burning blues. Working together for over four years now, they continue to hone their sound and songs onstage together, logging thousands of highway miles and hundreds of performances.

Anna’s powerhouse voice is “mesmerizing — growling, slurring, soaring, swooping, note-bending, word-bending…they’re all a part of her power-packed technique,” says Bluegrass Unlimited. John, who grew up in Mt. Sterling, KY, is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, setting the tone onstage with his interpretation of classic melodies, while his skills as arranger shine through their original material.

They are currently working on new material for a 2016 album release. For more information and further tour dates, please visit www.gritsandsoul.com, twitter.com/gritsandsoul, and facebook.com/gritsandsoulband.

The entire Flood Waters album can be heard at http://www.soundcloud.com/gritsandsoul/sets/flood-waters

It can also be found on Spotify and iTunes.

Watch Grits & Soul Live at The Grey Eagle in Ashevillewww.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi_EApz42Rs

The Grits & Soul Live at Our State Magazinehttp://www.ourstate.com/grits-soul-live

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