Tremolo: A wavering effect in a musical tone, produced either by rapid reiteration of a note, by rapid repeated slight variation in the pitch of a note, or by sounding two notes of slightly different pitches to produce prominent overtones
Heart: The center of a person's thoughts and emotions, especially love, compassion, or loyalty. The vital part or essence. Courage or enthusiasm.
We wrote and recorded Tremolo Heart during the pandemic. Like everyone else we experienced a profound sense of isolation. We were cut off from our musical community and from our friends and family. At their core the songs on this album are about connection—the connections that help us keep going, the lost connections we mourn, the connections that we can’t let go of even though we should.
There are two parts to making a song. The first part is the writing, where we figure out what we are trying to say and the best way to say it. This is an easy place to get stuck. There are only so many words and so many chords. We worry about being original and that what we have to say isn’t as important or insightful as all the other songs we’ve heard. Of course the reality is that no song emerges from a vacuum. We are fundamentally connected to what came before us, inspired and shaped by the artists we grew up listening to. Musically, the songs in Tremolo Heart are iterations of the past, but filtered through our own lives and hearts so they are uniquely ours.
The second part of a song is the connection, where we sing and play our music and communicate the heart of our idea to the listener. This is the part that we think is simple. Yes, it takes time to learn to develop skills as a musician, but once we’re “good enough” to play in front of people, we think it should be easy to get out there and perform. But it’s not. We worry that our own songs will reveal something too personal and intimate. Even songs we didn’t write can leave us feeling bare and vulnerable when we sing them. The most difficult and important part of a song is opening our hearts to the world and hoping that the people listening will do the same so that we can share sadness and joy and, even just for a moment, feel less alone.
Just as we are inextricably connected to the past, we are extremely fortunate to be connected to our present-day community of musicians. So many generous and talented and supportive musicians lent their talents to us for this record. Matt Froehlich played the amazing drums that held our songs together. Matt Tonge recorded gorgeous upright bass on three tracks to give a classic country feel. Geo Hennessy added a perfectly mournful violin lead to “Another One Like You.” Tracy Byrnes provided the sublime bass on “A Song For You” as well as many cups of tea while we took our nightly fireworks break (the perils of recording in a studio near an amusement park). Jason Day did our final masters and made everything sound better than we could have hoped for. And our producer Bobbo Byrnes did some of everything—played some bass and lead guitar, offered invaluable songwriting feedback, did all the recording engineering and mixing, provided general advice on performing and this whole business of being a musician, and gave a whole lot of moral support when we doubted ourselves.
It’s impossible to express how appreciative we are to all of the wonderful people who have listened to our music throughout the years. Thank you for every kind word, for every time you yelled “Odd Birds” from the back of the room during a show, and for every time we were able to connect with each other. Music is connection and we are grateful to be able to share it with you.