BioAfter a year of intense travel complicated by illness, the passing of friends, uncertainty and self-doubt, hard-touring Cosmic Americana quartet, Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray emerged with an album of rock songs touching on psychedelic tones, blues, country and folk that explores themes of dystopia, powerlessness and apocalypse but also perseverance, sincerity and love. Lean Into The Wind will be released on the Chicago-based record label Seven Dead Arson on March 25th. The record, full of rich three-part harmonies and a broad palette of instrumentation, combines the musical ambition and diversity of Fleetwood Mac tempered with the sun drenched California twang of The Flying Burrito Brothers. Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray will celebrate the marriage of the two songwriters with their Honeymoon Tour from March until June 2014.
“We’ve put off our wedding to spend the last 3 years on the road. This last year so many things have happened, both with us as a couple and with the band, these things had to coincide,” explains Yuma Wray.
Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray have a history of jumping in with both feet, living adventurously and making music intuitively. Singers and multi-instrumentalists, Shevaughn and Yuma, both spent much of their lives traveling, moving, trying to fit in and then leaving too soon …or just in time. And so it seemed almost natural when they decided to trade in their stable lives in Chicago for life together in a car bringing their songs to every corner of the country. Their 2012 debut, We’re From Here was a reflection of their travels. They never could have guessed that it would garner the critical praise that it did.
“Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray’s 2011 was spent on the road living out of their Honda Element, searching out their sound and cataloging their experiences and thoughts. Their time on the road was not wasted as the result is Americana personified – an amalgamation of elemental roots music into songs of real substance a soundtrack for a journey on the rural routes and black tops.” - BEAT SURRENDER
Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray hit the road again, joined by drummer, Ben Tufts from Washington D.C. The addition of a full time drummer allowed Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray to break away from the folk duo mold and fully explore the fierce dynamics that are a hallmark of their songwriting. The result is intelligent and imaginative music making with influences ranging from Pink Floyd and Little Feat to Neko Case and Black Mountain.
On the road, Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray have played over 235 shows and have opened for such acts as The Futurebirds and Levi Lowrey. They have been featured on radio stations including: WDVX, WMUC, KCPR, KRBX and KSKQ, and have played the Washington D.C. Black Cat Halloween Party 2013, Independent Chicago Songwriter Festival, Eclectica Music Festival and Art on the Avenue.
One of the first things Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray audiences notice is Miss Shevaughn’s powerful, effortless voice.
“If I had a million dollars, I would pay Miss Shevaughn to sing me to sleep every night for a year. We're From Here is one of the best albums that's come my way this year.” - ADOBE & TEARDROPS
Far from sounding wispy and detached, Miss Shevaughn sings passionately and ferociously at times. She has often been compared to Emmylou Harris and Joni Mitchell. On Lean Into The Wind, Miss Shevaughn explores a more gutsy side of her voice, drawing parallels with Linda Ronstadt or Grace Slick. But Miss Shevaughn is just as likely to rip into a fuzzed out slide lead or rock organ riff.
That’s one of the most unique things about this band, they are a whirlwind of creative energy, with each member contributing surprising and varied textures and melodies. Yuma Wray has developed an easily identifiable guitar style that includes big riffs, well placed texture, melodic phrasing and intuitive playing, with rhythms borrowed at times from punk or something more ancient. Additionally he adds flute, keys and harmonica. Yuma has also come into his own as a lead singer and both he and Ben sing layered vocal harmonies that weave throughout the songs. Derek Evry, Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray’s touring bass player, also adds vocal harmonies.
The nomadic musical lifestyle that began as an experiment for Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray at the beginning of 2011 quickly became the only way of life that made sense to either musician, but a shadow of illness was cast over their dream when Miss Shevaughn was diagnosed with cervical cancer in January 2013.
“We decided to push ahead, not knowing what would happen. We experienced such tumultuous emotions and we tried to capture them on Lean Into The Wind,” says Miss Shevaughn.
The intimate nature of the songs leaves the band often exposing their seams musically, thematically and emotionally. The fragility and strength in this record invites participation and surrender.
But Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray are travelers, fighters, the underdogs that you just have to root for as evidenced in “Drifter’s Compass”, the first track on Lean Into The Wind.
“Then you hear the sound of someone calling, and you feel the sun that just keeps burning, and you hear the song that won’t be broken. And we won’t be broken”
They won’t be broken.
Visit our blog, Till The Wheels Come Off, to read our daily adventures!
Or - if you need our up-to-the-minute 140-character blasts from "the internet's CB radio" - you can follow us on Twitter: @MissShevaughn or @YumaWray