It was about two years ago when RVA Mag last sat down with The Folly, when the blues/folk/rock band released their debut EP. Since then, they’ve been busy touring and toiling away in the studio on their latest project, Find A Way, which they dropped last month.
Their eclectic mix of folk and bluesy rock has made them a standout. Continuing that effort, lead singers and songwriters Jordan Lette and Anneliese Grant said they wanted to bring in more of the talent and creative contributions of their fellow bandmates. “This one was a lot more interactive, a lot more communal,” Lette said of the album’s creation.
Development on Find A Way started two years after the band’s current lineup had been established. Following the release of their debut EP, bassist Ray Montoro and Johnathan Kirvan bowed out of the band on good terms, with Jonny Powell (Bass, Vibra-slap), Josh Santamaria (Drums), and Jacob Larson (Percussion) joining recurring members Tara Dillard (fiddle) and Gordon Jones (saxophone). Pianist Sid Kingsley and No BS! Brass Band drummer Lance Koehler also contributed to the album.
While The Folly’s makeup in live shows still features shifting roles and numbers from venue to venue, this particular lineup would become a constant over the years; even as The Folly’s rising profile would take the group from a Beatles tribute at the Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg to a Halloween show in New York City. Eventually, the decision was made to ensure this incarnation of the band had a release to call its own.
“We need to have recordings of this group that represents who the band actually is now,” Grant said. “Just make sure we had a project that had our current family on it together.”
Where the band’s first EP had been the marriage of Grant and Lette’s lyrics and vocals to the music created by Lette, the expanded lineup was an integral part of the music from its earliest days. This led to a process of brainstorming and experimentation, fueled by members who had the space and encouragement to bring in their own ideas.
“I’m sure it’ll change the next time, or remain that same way but have a different process, because now everyone wants to bring stuff to the table,” he said.
Yet when it came time to record and produce the album, The Folly hit their first real obstacle. While they managed to book studio time in May at Minimum Wage Recordings, fulfilling a 10-year wish for Lette, the conflicting schedules and work requirements of the various band members made using that time very challenging.
“If you’re gonna invest in that kind of studio time, try to make sure everybody can get off work to be there altogether and all be in it throughout the entire time,” Grant said, reflecting on the experience.
The products of those long hours speak for themselves: eight tracks, spanning nearly an hour of various genres, beginning with the free-wheeling tunes of “So You Go Howl” and ending with the somber and sobering sounds of “Killing Machines.” And while The Folly’s ability to zigzag through their musical influences is still present, it’s matched with an air of improvisation, intimacy and DIY friendliness in the recording. This atmosphere extends to the physical release, including an inner cover that looks more like a family album, and a CD marked with “doodles” of the band by Grant.
For now, the Folly is focused on getting the word out to as many people as possible, using live shows and radio sessions to ensure a wide reach to a potential audience, all the while supporting, and supported by, a local scene as vibrant and communal as the sparks of inspiration behind their latest work.
“We’re here to support the community, and hopefully we’ll get supported as well,” Lette said.
Find A Way is available for streaming and purchase on iTunes or Spotify. Catch them at The Hof with Alice & the Reverie on Sept. 28 at 8:45 pm, and with People’s Blues of Richmond and Disco Risque at the Jefferson Theatre in Charlottesville on Oct. 6.
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond