Standing on the precipice of a new and exciting venture, the band members of Lovers Leap decided to jump. Under the shadow of the towering rock outcrop in Hot Springs, NC, from which their name was inspired, their sound took flight and soared through the mountain air. Their first encounter was set up by a festival producer as a musical blind date between GRAMMY-nominated bassist Shelby Means (formerly of Della Mae), acclaimed singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mary Lucey (formerly Biscuit Burners), award winning guitarist and songwriter Joel Timmons (Sol Driven Train), and slide guitar pioneer Billy Cardine (Acoustic Syndicate and formerly Biscuit Burners). The quartet felt an immediate musical chemistry, which insisted on being pursued like a flirtatious lover. As their first show unfolded and boundaries dissolved, the satisfying balance of lush harmonies and provocative solos tugged on the audience’s heart strings while satiating their desires for instrumental virtuosity.
The collaboration between these two musical couples has yielded a rich sonic harvest and an eponymous debut EP, set for release in April 2019. The 6 song collection builds on the band’s firm foundation in acoustic roots music, while guiding the listeners into wordly rhythms and dobro daydreams. The album opens with “Walnut Tree” and “Red Dawn Awakening,” spotlighting the women’s pure vocals, the play between Cardine’s dobro and Lucey’s clawhammer banjo, and lyrical themes of nature, renewal, death, and hope. “Love is Gonna Live” and “Love Brewed Cold” both feature chugging bluegrass tempos and the theme of love returning. The playful, “Great Expectations” follows with a mid tempo groove accented by light percussion and John Hartford-esque vocal scats. Lead vocals and songwriting duties are shared throughout between Lucey, Means, and Timmons, and the album closes with a beautiful three part harmony cover of the Guthrie/Tweedy campfire classic, “California Stars.”
Recording took place at the end of a steep gravel road, back in a mountain holler above Asheville, NC at Cardine and Lucey’s home studio. The tranquil isolation, surrounded by trees and songbirds, seeped into the tracks and filled the sessions with a sense of calm and place. Through the process of trying out songs for each other and arranging and producing the music together, the band collectively shined some musical gems. Recording in such an environment, however, was not without challenges or interruptions from Billy and Mary’s two boys, dogs, and hive of bees. The resulting EP was a labor of love, with one or two day recording sessions spread out over a year and carved out of the hectic schedule of four busy lives. Lucey has been writing songs and plucking the banjo at home out of the spotlight for a few years, focused instead on her nursing career and raising her two sons. Cardine juggles fatherhood with a busy recording and touring schedule across the globe for a variety of musical projects. Timmons and Means live in Nashville, balancing their individual music careers with their duo’s international tour calendar. As seasoned musicians, Lovers Leap has captured their unique chemistry in an alluring debut project sure to grab the attention of the roots music scene and beyond.
Individually, the members of Lovers Leap have each made an impact on the evolving Americana music scene. Means began singing and playing upright bass as a young’un in a family band on the high plains of Wyoming. These talents led her to Nashville where she landed a GRAMMY nomination with distaff bluegrass powerhouse Della Mae. Timmons, as a founding member of Charleston, SC’s brass-forward jam band Sol Driven Train, has cultivated a grass roots following through the band’s two decade long commitment to touring, sonic playfulness, danceable rhythms, and musical independence. Timmons and Means teamed up in 2017 as husband and wife duo, Sally & George, and released their critically acclaimed debut album, Tip My Heart. Lucey, a founding member of The Biscuit Burners, helped propel the band to international attention with her powerful singing, bass playing and songwriting. She also played with Uncle Earl alongside John Paul Jones for their album release tour. Cardine has been hailed as a slide guitar pioneer, and celebrated as both producer and composer. As a founding member of The Biscuit Burners and current member of Acoustic Syndicate and Rapidgrass he continues to show off his chameleonesque voice on all things slide. He has performed with Edgar Meyer at Carnegie Hall and collaborated with greats such as Debashish Bhattacharya and Jerry Douglas. Collectively the bandmates have presented their sound from the Kennedy Center to Bonnaroo, Merlefest to Telluride, and across Europe, Asia, Australia and the Caribbean. They each have been musical ambassadors and have taught workshops throughout the country and internationally on their respective instruments. They demonstrate a commitment to building cultural bridges and community through the universal language of music.
The Bluegrass Situation - “Listen: Lovers Leap, ‘Love Is Gonna Live’”
Guitar Girl Mag - “Tone Talk With Shelby Means”
Folk Alley - “Song Premiere: Lovers Leap, ‘Walnut Tree’”