Roanoke and Raleigh-based duo, The River Pilots (Robert Natt and Zach Wiley), released their self-titled debut album yesterday, and it’s worth a listen. Its well-crafted Americana-meets-Retro-meets-Folk-meets-Singer Songwriter sound is very reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel, especially with the acoustic guitar and dual harmonies throughout the album.
Robert and Zach enlisted a dream team to help produce their debut, including Billboard-charting producer Chris Keup (Jason Mraz), recording engineer Stewart Meyers (Lifehouse, Liz Phair), and mastering engineer Fred Kevorkian (Ryan Adams, White Stripes, Phish, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews). As Chris Keup put it, “The River Pilots brought strong, well-crafted Americana songs to the table and then worked hard to embellish them with overdubs only when the song absolutely required it. As a result the songs remain raw and honest.” And I couldn’t agree more. Natt and Wiley showed a lot of restraint where other artists wouldn’t have been able to, thus maintaining a simple beauty that is rare these days.
Speaking to the River Pilots’ minimalism, Wiley, who is on piano, keys, organ, drums and some guitar, says, “Simple music can have a very emotionally powerful feel. My musical roots stem from traveling with my mother’s southern gospel band as a child. Pair the simplicity of a 1-4-5 progression with a sweet, simple, catchy melody and you have a song worth singing…”
Guitarist Natt explains, “As a writer and arranger, I’m a minimalist. I’m really drawn to great tone. I wanted this record to have huge, beautiful guitar sounds. I’m always open to simple structure and breaking standard song formats when it serves the song… We try to keep melodies straightforward, but build lush, modern chords.”
Listen to my favorite track “And When it Rains” here: http://www.theriverpilots.com