You can’t hurry a harvest. Music this poignant takes patience. This band hooked me several years ago with the mystique of their name: Cold Tone Harvest. It conjures up the distinctions of the elements, Michigan weather; sound (the brisk timbres of banjos and acoustic guitars); and rural vocation, the harvest. It also acknowledges the blue-collar lifestyles that frame many of the themes and characters in their lyrics. The band members have purposefully taken their time, and the craft and care will show when they finally unveil their first full-length album November 30th at The Ark.
“From the get go, when I first heard Andy (Sigworth) sing, I said that’s got to be the focus,” says Brian Williams, Cold Tone Harvest’s drummer. They met each other through mutual friends during a camping trip up north, when a campfire facilitated recitals of songs and music. “His voice is our lead instrument,” says Williams, recalling how his first jam sessions with Sigworth found him paring his drum kit back and starting off with softer brushes rather than snare-slamming sticks. Daniel Ozzie Andrews joined on upright bass before their first official show in 2010.
“I think people might hear us as fitting into certain styles, like Americana, or folk…,” Williams says, listing off genres.
“Or ‘Whiskey-rock!’” Sigworth slips in with a chuckled suggestion.
“But we don’t go into a song with any of that in mind,” explains Williams. “It’s keeping that voice and building the music around those lyrics.”
There’s an elegant ruggedness to Sigworth’s voice; it truly is an instrument unto itself, even though he’s never had any classical training. And it’s soulful— even if Cold Tone Harvest isn’t making soul music—since the sublime sway to its melodic incantation comes straight from the heart and captures that thin border between fragility and perseverance. The relatable lyrics, odes to everyday travails, are also augmented by the keen subtleties of the musical arrangements via drums, banjo, upright bass, and most recently, the electric guitar of Tony Pace, the band’s newest member.
“For the majority of the songs on this new album, the lyrics cover an array of experiences I’ve either had or have witnessed other folks go through,” says Sigworth. “There’s a certain Midwestern quality to what the music and lyrics put out there, almost as if we’re trying to capture the idea of adversity. There’s always a moment where you can dig deeper and be reminded you can push forward. That’s what we try to encompass with this record and these songs.”
First full length
The band has already released a handful of EPs in the past, and steadily continued to hone its craft, sound, chemistry and aesthetic before finally working on a full-length album. They recorded a good chunk of After You at 2188 Studio in Chelsea and had production and mixing assistance from Ann Arbor’s Chris Dupont. To make this the best record it could be, they went the crowd-funding route and were overwhelmed by the supportive response from fans.
Sigworth says it was bassist Andrews who declared the new album a true “snapshot,” a capturing of the band at this moment in time and “of everything we’ve done up to this point.“ What you’ll hear most of all is the patience. These are adept musicians playing with care, creating a vibrant and evocative sound likely to stir something deep in your soul.
Cold Tone Harvest Album Release Party
The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor
Thursday, November 30, Doors at 7:30pm