There is a lot of noise in music these days – often welcome and well-made. But for those nights when you really need it, there’s a lot of tender folk music happening too. Oakland based Willow Steps have been sowing these acoustic seeds for barely two years, but are already harvesting some of the more gorgeous harmonies in town.
Singer and songwriter Jesse Strickman teamed up with vocalist Leiya Mahoney after meeting at an organic ice cream shop where they both worked. “Organic” is an apt term for the music they are crafting as well, and new song “Lover’s Recipe” uses the whole-food equivalent of instrumentation and arrangement (acoustic guitar, bowed acoustic upright bass and a few well-placed percussion hits), with the vocals prominently displayed.
The two vocal lines are more counter-point than straight harmony though – meaning either voice could be the sole melody of this song. They chase each other and lean towards or away from each other much like lovers not sure whether to move forward or run away. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which voice is singing which note because they are so intertwined. Again, this creates in sound that feeling at the end of a relationship (which this song describes lyrically as overlapping with the beginning of another) when you have to painfully separate yourself from a lover. Whose baggage is whose? Whose feelings are whose?
But it’s the strong emotional impulse driving this song that sells me on it and gets me listening over and over. I love a song that makes me feel something, and this one does. It’s a melancholy and nostalgic feeling, reinforced by its lyrics:
“I’m so sorry
it won’t be easy
I know because that’s been me
I’ve been the past other in this lovers recipe”
The live video performance below, created by Shady Pines Media, highlights this final track off the band’s recent EP A Truth Too Big To See. You can hear the full album here. And if you need a dose of gorgeousness, they will be performing at the Awaken Cafe in Oakland Saturday December 3rd. Get your tickets here.