Kieran Kane and Rayna Gellert’s musical partnership and their new album The Ledges was not the result of a magical flash of inspiration. Quite the contrary; it came about through the slow and steady process of two experienced artists who realized the sum of their music was greater than its parts.
“We first met in San Francisco at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in 2015,” Kane says. “We started writing together and found the pocket pretty quickly in terms of the rhythmic groove. Eventually, we started singing duets, and we fell in love with the sound. That’s when we went to my cabin in New York, finished writing more songs, wrote some new ones, set up a makeshift studio, and ended up recording this album. It’s just the two of us sitting in a little bunk house, playing and singing.”
“It was an evolving thing,” Gellert says. “At first we were just writing together. Some of the songs came out on Kieran’s EP two years ago and some wound up on my EP from last year. But when we tried recording together it was very different from what we do individually. It became a Venn diagram of where we overlap.”
Although based in the traditional, old-timey sounds that both Kane and Gellert have mastered through their solo efforts, The Ledges reflects a more stripped-down, avant-garde take on American roots music in both lyrics and instrumentation.
“When I write on my own I'm really wordy,” Gellert says. “I can get really distracted by language, but Kieran is so great about having a musical hook to hang something on. He keeps me from getting hyper verbal.”
“I've worked in duo-esque situations back to my days in the O'Kanes,” Kane says. “This is different. What we've been able to do together is rooted in traditional music — early blues, country, and rock & roll — but it also feels very new to me.”
The Basement plays host to the duo Sunday as they celebrate the release of The Ledges. “We're very excited about the show,” Kane says. “We've played in Nashville before, opening for the Steel Drivers, but this is the first opportunity for us to do a full and proper set. We both love The Basement, and we'll be doing most of the new record and some material from our solo albums that we've turned into ours. This project has put new life into my enjoyment playing music. Hopefully we'll keep doing this until we stop.”
The Ledges release show is 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 18 at The Basement, located at 1604 8th Ave. S. Advance tickets are available online through Ticketweb.