Three years ago, Linen Ray first encountered the live stage magic of The Ark.
The married folk-rock duo of Rebekah Craft (lead vocals, acoustic guitar) and Gabriel Craft (drums, backing vocals) headlined an April 25, 2017 show at the intimate 400-seat Ann Arbor folk club with a well-known lineup of Michigan-based musicians. For the Nashville couple, it was a life-changing experience that transformed a longtime dream into a welcoming new reality.
“I’ve been to so many concerts there. I’ve watched women perform there, and I aspired to be one of those women standing up there on that stage one day. It was just a really big moment for me, and it just felt so good,” said Rebekah Craft, who’s originally from Ypsilanti and comes from a musical family.
The Crafts beautifully captured that memorable performance with a new Linen Ray five-track EP, Live at The Ark, which is now available on Bandcamp and will be distributed to all other streaming platforms on April 10. It features delicate band interplay, deep-pocket grooves, dreamy harmonies, and soothing vocals over mesmerizing live renditions of select tracks from Linen Ray’s 2016 self-titled EP and companion full-length album, “Lean Toward the Sky.”
After their 2017 Ark show, Linen Ray kept the live soundboard recording and recently revisited it after moving their family to Nashville. They sifted through their entire Live at The Ark set to include the most captivating tracks from that transcendent night with Michael Harrington (electric guitar), Marvin Thompson (keys), Tony Pace (lap steel guitar), Adam Plomaritas (bass) and backing vocalists Rashida Johnson, Christina Kateri, and Rachel Rodriguez.
“The very first thing was the best vocal and the best sound with all of the instrumentation and all of the musicians together. Secondly, we picked the five songs that we were getting the most feedback from other people that they liked. ‘It’ll Take Time’ is a pretty popular one that people like as well as ‘This is Love,’” said Gabriel Craft, a Spring Arbor native.
The soaring live rendition of “It’ll Take Time” blends deep electric and lap steel guitars with rhythmic bass, echoing drum taps, and glistening keys. Rebekah Craft eloquently sings an uplifting anthem of hope, “Resistance the tidal wave, heading my way / I’m sailing the current of promise and faith / Some say words hold the power to destroy or create/ So I’m gonna sing to change the winds of my yesterday.”
Linen Ray also spreads hope through the moving live version of “This is Love,” which combines reverby electric guitars, light cymbal strikes, deep bass strums, thumping drums, and vibrant piano into an inspirational folk-rock symphony. Again, Rebekah Craft soulfully sings, “Your voice carries down the long hallway / Sing sweet melodies / As you glide into your dreams /Wish I could rock you all through the night / Keep you close and hold you tight.”
“I think that when we are playing live we try to add more and be creative and be spontaneous in the moment. That’s a part of any show. In my opinion, with any great show, you can go there, and it just doesn’t sound exactly like what you’ve heard. There’s a little free flow, and there’s some fun going on,” said Gabriel Craft, who started writing songs with his wife 10 years ago.
Since the release of Live at The Ark, Linen Ray has started working on their second full-length album, On the Mend, with U.K.-based producer Patrick Jordan as well as several Nashville musicians. It will feature live-in-the-studio performances, stripped-down instrumentation, and some experimental touches with tracks that highlight healing, balance, forgiveness, and spirituality.
“We’re going back and forth with ideas and just enjoy working with him. He’s really easy to work with and so creative,” said Rebekah Craft. “We’re not sure if we’re going to release singles at first and then release the whole album later. Something will be released in 2020.”