Filled with abundant love, family and music, Linen Ray remains rock solid.
The Nashville, Tennessee married folk-rock duo of Rebekah Craft (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Gabriel Craft (drums, backing vocals) strongly withstands the mounting challenges of weather, the pandemic and personal stress on their latest bluesy, gospel-tinged single, “Love Ain’t Easy.”
“There are so many tests, and a lot of people and marriages broke up during that time. Being in a relationship is hard work,” said Rebekah Craft, an Ypsilanti native who’s been married to Gabriel Craft for 18 years.
Along with his wife, Gabriel Craft nodded in agreement. “I think the biggest challenge we faced during that whole time with the tornado and the pandemic was how suddenly things had to change. You would start to acclimate to the change, and then there was a change again.”
Back in March 2020, the Crafts encountered a deadly tornado that devastated part of Nashville just 10 days before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the nation.
Reeling from those life-changing experiences, they quickly adapted to lockdown life at home, which included virtual school, remote work and Linen Ray home studio recording sessions.
“We went through all of that, and then things started to change. We were able to leave a little bit, and the kids were back in school, but then after two weeks, somebody got COVID, and then the kids were back at home,” said Gabriel Craft, who grew up in Spring Arbor.
Despite the constant changes and lingering uncertainties, the Crafts relied on the strength of their marriage and family to focus on the future. Last fall, they penned their soulful solidarity anthem, “Love Ain’t Easy,” as a fervent tribute to lifelong love and commitment.
Linen Ray beautifully illustrates that devoted sentiment as breezy electric guitar, rich bass, smooth drums, ticking cymbals, sheeny horns and thoughtful organ elevate them to another romantic plane.
Rebekah Craft elegantly sings, “Don’t you know/I want ya babe/Forever to be mine/Day and night/Night and day/Can’t get you off my mind/Yeah, you got that special something/Something that I like.”
“This song is different than the other ones on the album because it has that soulful feeling, and it’s the only song that has horns. I went to the producer and said, ‘We don’t have any bluesy songs, so maybe we should try to write something different,” said Rebekah Craft.
“I grew up singing that style a lot. This one is more repetitive because it’s a bluesy song, and it’s reinforcing that same message.”
Linen Ray co-wrote and recorded their latest single via FaceTime with U.K.-based producer, Patrick Jordan, who also added electric guitar, bass and organ.
“This particular song started as a collaboration between Patrick and us. He tracked some guitar and sent it over to us, and then I tracked some scratch drums and bounced it back to him,” said Gabriel Craft, who also tracked vocals with Rebekah Craft in their home studio.
“Patrick would continue to build the song out as far as the production went. We wrote some lyrics and worked out the arrangements for the backing vocals and melody.”
In tandem with Jordan, Linen Ray remotely added emotive background vocals from Detroit siblings Charles Laster and Christie Laster and vivid horns from Nashville’s Vincent Ciesielski (trumpet) and Tyler Summers (sax).
“It was really gonna be more of an (in-person) collaboration with everybody feeding off of each other’s creativity. I think we were still able to have that energy and creativity, and we were completely happy and satisfied with the outcome,” said Gabriel Craft.
As the duo’s first new studio material since 2016’s Lean Toward the Sky and a follow-up to 2020’s Live at The Ark, “Love Ain’t Easy” serves as the first poignant single from their forthcoming second album, On the Mend.
Also recorded with Jordan, the new Linen Ray album will feature 12 tracks spotlighting restoration, balance, forgiveness and spirituality.
“Most of the songs are about healing. ‘On the Mend’ was the very first song, and that was written a few years ago,” said Rebekah Craft, who will release several singles with Gabriel Craft before their new album drops next spring.
“We were just going through a lot, and we decided that would be the perfect title. It was such a weird time for us with moving to Tennessee. We just needed to have a new start as a family.”
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