Linen Ray slowly breathes a long-awaited sigh of relief.
The Nashville, Tennessee married folk-rock duo of Rebekah Craft (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Gabriel Craft (drums, backing vocals) releases deeply buried tensions and inner struggles on their latest cathartic album, On the Mend.
“We’re in a full-circle moment now … there’s been some closure and healing in different areas. We’ve never written anything more meaningful to us that’s so close to our hearts,” said Rebekah Craft, who relocated to Music City from Ypsilanti with her husband and children in 2018.
“When we were moving to Nashville, there were so many unknowns, but we knew we had to do it. And, now looking back, we can see that this move has been really good for our family. We got to step away from some of those situations to really look at it and see the whole picture now.”
Inside that new On the Mend picture, Linen Ray finds comfort and rejuvenation after weathering personal stress and pandemic challenges. Each therapeutic track reveals a majestic, internal transformation fueled by hope, love and gratitude.
“We can see more clearly now because we’re all human, and we all make our choices,” said Rebekah Craft. “Now … we have way more grace, compassion and understanding than we had before when we were living through those moments in Michigan.”
On the Mend
Linen Ray beautifully depicts those insights through honest lyrics, breathtaking harmonies, ‘70s Laurel Canyon-esque melodies and spirited folk-rock instrumentation. The vulnerable On the Mend opener, “Try,” reveals the ongoing challenge of accepting the past while anticipating the future.
Shimmery electric guitar, thoughtful acoustic guitar, whistling organ, steady drums, confident bass, determined pedal steel and driving banjo instantly provide warm reassurance and dispel uncertainty.
Rebekah Craft sings, “Yesterday, I had the time of my life, feeling so good, on top of the world/Today, I don’t feel like going outside, ‘cause out of nowhere, sorrow bled me dry/I don’t want to live this way, how do I make it from day to day.”
“For me, I’m very hard on myself, and that’s held me back a lot throughout my life. As I get older, I’m really noticing that, and it’s like, ‘No, I can’t do this to myself anymore.’ I can’t be everything for everybody,” she said.
“There are days that I wake up, and I literally don’t know why I feel sad. It’s just in your core. While writing that song, I was thinking ‘What is this thing? Why do I wake up and feel like this? But then, tomorrow, I’ll be OK.’”
Linen Ray finds additional relief on the uplifting friendship anthem, “You Make Me Feel,” as sunny harmonica, jubilant electric guitar, placid acoustic guitar, energetic banjo, forthright bass and thumping drums reveal a once-in-a-lifetime connection.
Rebekah Craft sings, “I feel like I’ve known you from another time/You got a smile like an angel, seems to calm my mind/You make me feel like I can do anything, you got a way of bringing out the best in me.”
“That song was written about a friend of mine I met at a CD Baby conference in Nashville. She’s a beautiful lady … we hit it off really fast, and we’ve been in contact ever since. That was in 2018, right when we moved to town,” she said.
“In that situation, I was really happy to find her because we had just gone through all of that stuff with moving to Tennessee. She’s a very positive, happy and encouraging person … I just took away so much from that first encounter. I could just be completely honest, real and transparent with her.”
Transparency also shines throughout the cautionary On the Mend ode, “In the Fire,” which offers a stern warning about the ramifications of impulsive choices. Tender piano, somber electric guitar, pensive acoustic guitar, weary pedal steel, hopeful bass and pounding drums echo Linen Ray’s increasing concerns.
Rebekah Craft sings, “You’ve always been a fighter, dang stubborn on a mission/To finish what you start/Yeah, you got a great, big heart/But slow way down and think it through/Before you make your next big move/I’m telling you the honest truth/Because I really love you.”
“It’s saying, ‘Slow down a little bit and look at the whole situation … the grand scheme of things. Take your time making your decisions because the choices you’re making are hurting a lot of people,’” she said. “It’s talking about that, but also highlighting how someone is a good person.”
Meanwhile, Linen Ray mourns past relationships on a haunting cover of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.” Uneasy acoustic guitar, wailing dobro, solemn bass, contemplative piano and delicate drums offer an everlasting embrace.
Rebekah Craft sings, “Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus?/You’ve got to help me make a stand/You’ve got to see me through another day/My body’s aching and my time is at hand/And I won’t make it any other way.”
“When we lived in Michigan, we were going to play a show, and we were looking for some cover songs. I really loved that song, and I wanted to give it a different spin by adding more folky elements and giving it a little bit more grit and tension,” she said.
“Gabriel and I had the idea of taking out the bridge at the end and focusing on the lyric, ‘I always thought that I’d see you again.’ When we all came together to play it, we got a really good response on that one.”
The Michigan-Tennessee-U.K. Connection
For On the Mend, Linen Ray worked remotely with U.K.-based producer Patrick Jordan to shape the album’s rich spectrum of sounds, which ranges from folk-rock and pop-rock to alt-country and traditional country to gospel.
“He was so good at bringing in the 1970s sound we wanted. We also wanted an earthy, raw live feeling for the album, but because of COVID, all of our plans had to change. Originally, Patrick was going to fly over to Nashville and record us here in a studio,” said Rebekah Craft, who’s also working with Jordan on one of his projects.
“Once COVID hit, everybody had to record their parts in their own home studios. It was really helpful because Patrick had so much knowledge of the recording software and was able to guide us through the process.”
As part of that process, Linen Ray invited a star-studded team of Michigan-Tennessee collaborators to solidify On the Mend’s timeless sound.
The team included: David Barber (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo), Kirby Barber (bass), Chris Saunders (electric guitar), Michael Harrington (pedal steel), Tony Pace (dobro), Christina Kateri (backing vocals), Adam Plomaritas (backing vocals), Charles Laster (backing vocals), Christie Laster (backing vocals), Sean McClain (organ), Tyler Summers (saxophone), Vincent Ciesielski (trumpet), Chris Demetriou (violin), Hans Anderson (cello) and Jordan (various instruments).
“The fact that we had everybody … it was meant to be. We were able to still proceed and get things done,” said Rebekah Craft. “Gabriel also recorded the drums, my acoustic guitar and all the vocals in our own home studio. We had a lot of time that we could put into it.”
They’ll also perform June 11 at the Black Squirrel Bluegrass & Americana Festival in Albion and the Cabbage Patch Saloon in Grosse Pointe Park, June 16 at Dark Horse Brewing Co. in Marshall, and June 17 at Ogma Brewing in Jackson.
“We’re actively trying to book more shows, and we’ve gotten some really good opportunities through ReverbNation,” said Rebekah Craft. “We also have a show coming up in Alabama next month.”
Friday, June 10 | 7 p.m.
The Parliament Room at Otus Supply, 345 E. Nine Mile Road in Ferndale
Tickets: $10 advance/$15 door