Sunset Avenue Sessions
Several Americana and folk artists have huge followings in the UK and remain a little lesser known here in the states. Lizanne Knott, Jesse Terry and Michael Logen are straddling that line, although their collaboration, Sunset Avenue Sessions, has already garnered heavy radio airplay and online buzz stateside. The project came about rather accidentally when the three separate solo artists had a late summer session to record a few songs for their upcoming UK dates as a trio. They met at Knott’s studio outside of Philadelphia and spent five hours recording what is now an album of 11 songs – five covers and six originals, two from each.
The three good friends have often done shows together but had never put out an album as a trio. They were encouraged by those who heard the sessions to release it. It seems to serve a couple of purposes. The three-part and two-part harmonies are especially strong and delivered via familiar tunes while each artist also gives the listener an introduction to their individual songcraft, with key selections from their own solo albums. Knott, for example, is working on her next solo release, Bones & Gravity scheduled for 2019. Here she delivers the seductive “Why You Wanna Break My Heart” from her most recent Excellent Day. Other examples are Terry’s well-crafted title track and celebratory, poppy “Dance In Our Old Shoes” from his Stargazer while Logen’s atmospheric “Ocean Floor” from his 2007 Things I Failed to Mention features him playing guitar, piano, B3, and synths.
The choice of covers is a sampling of the contemporary American songbook, a peek into their influences and interests. They begin with Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly” with Knott’s clear, soaring lead backed by Terry and Logen’s harmonies as all strum along acoustically. Knott also finishes the album on lead for Petty’s “Wildflowers” backed by Logen’s harmony. Logen interprets Stephen Stills’ “For What It’s Worth “ and Terry unique renders Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” each with three-part harmonies. Logen also delivers a haunting version of Pink’s mournful “Try” with Knott singing intimately in duet.
As mentioned, each artist has an opportunity to reveal their own distinctive style with Logen also contributing the lyrically strong. lush “Already Home,” Knott’s rather elegant “Caroline” and special guest Dar Williams duetting with Terry on the shimmering “Stargazer.” It’s essentially acoustic and stripped down on the trio songs with the individual tunes done with small bands. All three artists have a separate sound and focus but share the love of storytelling and are acclaimed solo performers. You can learn more by visiting: Lizanneknott.com, jesseterrymusic.com and michaellogen.com
Perhaps this will pave the way for a future album of harmonies from the trio on all tracks. The chemistry and synergy are natural and captivating.
- Jim Hynes