Joint Adventure – The Whiskey Charmers Blaze New Sonic Trails for ‘On the Run’ Album

The Whiskey Charmers 2 2022
The Whiskey Charmers capture an adventurous sonic spirit for “On the Run.” Photo courtesy of The Whiskey Charmers

The Whiskey Charmers thoughtfully choose their own adventure.

The Detroit alt-country duo of Carrie Shepard (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Lawrence Daversa (electric and steel guitars, backing vocals) explore and weather life-changing terrain on their new Odyssean album, On the Run.

“When we were trying to think of an all-encompassing title, we started realizing how much that theme goes through the record, the On the Run theme,” said Shepard about the album out today via Sweet Apple Pie Records.

“We didn’t have a specific theme before going into the record because we actually recorded about 20 songs at once. We picked half that we thought would go well together for this first one, and we have half that we’re hoping to release next year.”

As the first half, On the Run journeys through melodic Laurel Canyon soundscapes, ‘70s-inspired country-rock instrumentation fused with hard-rock, psych-rock, blues and funk elements, and daring tales of growth and reflection. Collectively, the album’s 10 tracks serve as the ideal sonic companion for an open-ended road trip.

“The last two records featured the same guitar and the same amp that I play with live all the time. I just brought different stuff in because I was playing different stuff … and some songs like ‘Billy’ seemed like it needed to be a little more aggressive,” Daversa said.

“I did a whole run-through of that song and sent it to some guitar-player friends of mine and one friend was like, ‘Yeah, I hear what you’re trying to do on that, but that ain’t it.’ At first I was like, ‘Forget you, man,’ and then I started thinking about it. He was right because I changed it to what we do now, and I think it turned out a lot better.”

On the Run

The Whiskey Charmers explore and weather life-changing terrain on their new album.

The Whiskey Charmers introduce that refreshed On the Run sound on the bold opener, “Nobody Cares,” as spirited keys, electric and acoustic guitar, bass and drums invite freedom and change.

Shepard sings, “I’m gonna run so wild / Up to the mountainside / Down to the firelight / It will be alright.”

“It was one of those songs that I wrote … and Lawrence really liked it,” Shepard said. “I was like, ‘Really? This is kind of like a nothing song.’ I didn’t believe at first that it was a good song.”

Daversa quickly reassured Shepard: “She kept saying, ‘But it doesn’t say anything,’ and I’m like, ‘Sure it does.’ Plus, it’s just fun to play.”

Then Shepard responded: “I’m glad that it’s on the album because I really like how it turned out.”

Another winning On the Run track includes the hopeful ballad, “Water,” which features comforting piano and electric guitar surrounding Shepard in a warm embrace. It’s a welcome sonic respite from life’s everyday troubles and challenges.

She sings, “Baby I’m on fire / Won’t you come and put it out / I got this burning desire / And the flame won’t flicker out / Won’t you lift me up and fill my cup / Cuz this love it ain’t running out.”

“I have horrible anxiety, and that song’s about finding a spot or a place just to get a break from all that,” Shepard said. “It’s also a love song.”

With that feeling in mind, “Water’s” vulnerable thematic elements also beautifully complement its mighty sonic structure, which takes inspiration from early Elton John.

“Once we gave it to drummer Brian [Ferriby], he instantly envisioned a big, bombastic Elton John ‘70s ballad with all the big, rolling drum fills and everything like that,” Daversa said. “That’s what it became, and I kinda tailored everything the same way. It’s about capturing a vibe more than anything else.”

To bring “Water” to life visually, The Whiskey Charmers filmed a raw black-and-white video interspersed with colorful shots of them strolling through Birmingham’s Shain Park. Shepard also plays an outdoor piano covered in pastel paint during a calm fall night.

“It was a really nice night, and we decided to walk around and saw this really nice piano just sitting in the park. We were playing the song off one phone and trying to film it off the other phone,” Shepard said. “We shot enough for the intro of the song, and then people really liked it, so we went back the next week and shot enough to finish it.”

After quenching their emotional thirst on “Water,” the band craves additional enrichment and connection on the contemplative ballad, “Gold.” As the album’s longest track, it features glistening southern California instrumentation drenched in lush harmonies.

Radiant electric guitar, steel guitar and acoustic guitar push the duo toward a promising future as Shepard sings, “Are you headed out west where the eagles fly? / Are you headed out west where your dreams may lie? / Hope you make it soon, if you even try / And if you don’t, I’ll wonder why.”

“We found a video of ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ with J.D. Souther doing ‘Doolin-Dalton’ live from 1973. We became obsessed with that, and then we started listening to the Eagles’ recording,” Daversa said. “We also started listening to a lot of their stuff.”

Next, Shepard added: “We were listening to the Eagles in the car, and ‘Gold’ used to be shorter. Then, I realized the Eagles do this thing where they get to the end of a song, and then they just keep going. It’s really dramatic and super cool, and I had never really thought about doing anything like that. I was like, ‘I’m gonna try and do that for ‘Gold.’”

Finally, The Whiskey Charmers depart the old west’s ghost town of “Gold” for the turbulent romantic landscape of “Stop Running Your Mouth.”

Funky “wah” electric guitar and determined bass haunt Shepard as she sings, “Woke up this morning to your misery / So nice of you to think of me, no doubt / You say I’m blind and only you can see / Well you know I disagree, still you shout.”

“This song, I wrote from someone else’s point of view, and I was frustrated for them. I had never really done that before and taken on the feeling of like, ‘Oh God, this must be what it’s like,’” Shepard said.

Then, Daversa commented on the track’s psychedelic sensibilities: “That’s another one that took on a life of its own in the studio as we kept playing it. I just started playing that little rhythm and decided it needed a wah pedal. I asked Dave [Roof], ‘Do you have a wah pedal in here? Then, gimme that thing.’ I worked it out, and it was fun.”

The Journey Continues

The Whiskey Charmers car
The Whiskey Charmers venture to their next live show. Photo courtesy of The Whiskey Charmers

The Whiskey Charmers captured On the Run’s adventurous sound at Grand Blanc’s Rooftop Recording with engineer/multi-instrumentalist David Roof (keys), Brian Ferriby (drums, percussion) and Daniel “Ozzie” Andrews (bass).

They spent two days recording Ferriby’s drums on 20 tracks along with doing overdubs and capturing Daversa’s guitar parts and Andrews’ bass parts. Most of the album’s tracks were recorded in one take while a couple of tracks required additional takes.

“Dave did a lot of his stuff, including keys, on his own time. He would just send us stuff, like the intro to ‘Nobody Cares.’ We fine-tuned that via Facebook Messenger,” Daversa said.

Next, Daversa and Shepard will translate those On the Run tracks from the studio to the stage tonight with Roof, Ferriby and Andrews at Hamtramck’s Ant Hall. They will celebrate the album’s release alongside openers Emily Rose and Elspeth Tremblay & The Treatment.

“We’re going to do three songs from Lost on the Range because it never got a proper release. The new record is only 36 minutes long … and then we’re going to play three that will be on the next record,” Daversa said. “Honestly, it’s good for us to have some time to warm up.”

Looking ahead, The Whiskey Charmers will perform Nov. 18 at Detroit Shipping Company for Metro Times Presents Whiskey in the Winter. They also will embark on a short holiday tour Dec. 21-24 in Ohio, Maryland and West Virginia and prepare for a new album release in 2023.

“I like this current record so much … I’m super intimidated to do the next one,” Shepard said. “I was like, ‘What if we make this record and it’s not as good?’”

Daversa responded: “A lot of the songs are kinda interchangeable , and the way it worked out like Carrie said before … some of the tunes that we ended up with in that next grouping all have their own mood, which is really cool.”

Show details:

The Whiskey Charmers On the Run Album Release Show with Emily Rose and Elspeth Tremblay & The Treatment

7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12

Ant Hall, 2320 Caniff St. in Hamtramck

Tickets: $10

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