Sometimes you have to turn off your brain and let your body sing. That’s what Esme Patterson did on her third full-length, We Were Wild, set for release on Grand Jury Music on June 10th, 2016. “At its core, rock ‘n’ roll is where madness and order collide. Where our sexual, raw, animal nature meets our heart and mind. On this album I explored deeper, more far out sonic spaces. I hunted the vibe through vast wilderness,” says the Portland-based songwriter.
Her decadal musical career sprang from Colorado's mountains when she co-founded Denver's beloved indie-folk ensemble Paper Bird. After four acclaimed albums and perpetual touring, Patterson set a new course. In 2012, she wove local talents, including Nathaniel Rateliff, into her first powerful, ethereal solo release All Princes, I. Her 2014 release, Woman to Woman, rounded out previously one-dimensional females from popular songs to the praise of The New York Times, The Guardian and others. “Dearly Departed”, her hit collaboration with Shakey Graves led to millions of streams, sold out shows nationwide, as well as performances on Conan and The Late Show With David Letterman.
Across We Were Wild, her delicate voice, wry humor, poignant storytelling, and impassioned delivery entwine with fuzzed-out guitars, deep-in-pocket percussion, hints of roots-y country, and a swirling psychedelic hum.
“I needed to paint using more colors,” she goes on. “On my past records everything was hyper realistic. I didn’t overdub much or fix mistakes. Woman To Woman was basically recorded in a day, and everything was played live. In contrast, the pre-production for We Were Wild spanned over almost a year. Lyrically and musically, I went a little bit more fantasy. Groovy fantasy.”
The opener “Feel Right” gallops along on a wiry riff as her voice carries an irresistible refrain. “The song is about the dissonance between the body and the mind,” she explains. “You can’t understand one extreme without the other. Light can’t exist without dark. Until you see contrasted with the other, the two are indistinguishable. They’re both necessary.”
Elsewhere on the album, “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin’” showcases the expanse of her dynamic voice. “No River” flows on a silky beat that gives way to Esmé’s soulful delivery, while “Find It” offers up sharp introspection over a delightful groove.
“These songs reflect my life and where I am,” she admits. “They also negotiate where I want to be. In the process of writing and recording We Were Wild I now see that I was subconsciously trying to give myself permission to want more, to move forward into the unknown and seek what my spirit needs.”
Ultimately, Esmé progresses by embracing exactly who she is.
“I’m always transforming, renewing, living, and growing.” she leaves off. “I love the way music can be a companion in life and a tool for transformation. I hope this record can act as a friend for everyone on their respective journeys. A lot of these songs were lessons my heart was giving my mind. I want to share them because maybe they can help others the way they helped me."
The Still Tide
Anna Morsett spent most of her life on the coasts, but it wasn’t until she moved to landlocked Colorado in 2013 that the guitar-wielding songwriter discovered The Still Tide: Both her band, and the calm current she had long been seeking in her own life.
“I came here from the coast, noise and city tangled in my hair,” she sings on the first single from The Still Tide’s fourth EP. “Found you like forgiveness, swept clean by years of mountain air.”
Morsett is now firmly entrenched in the Colorado music community, having played with Ark Life, Porlolo, Brent Cowles, Natalie Tate and These United States. But she very much remains the undulating current of The Still Tide, a seductive, shoegazey collective that marks a shifting tide with Each, After. The new EP is essentially Morsett’s solo debut, while still fully supported by guitarist and co-founder Jacob Miller and a rotating ensemble that currently consists of drummer Joe Richmond (Churchill, Tennis) and bassist Nate Meese (Meese, The Centennial). “I always wanted the full band sound, Morsett said. “But I also wanted the freedom and the anonymity to kind of cruise around on my own.”
Morsett is as enigmatic as her sound is alluring. She describes herself as both a shredder guitar chick and a nerdy loner. A frontwoman and an anonymous face in the crowd. She is seemingly always in transition, like a wave shapeshifting between low and high tide.
Morsett grew up in Olympia, Wash., under a sister-infused musical foundation that included Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix and Andy Aledort guitar lesson books. She dove head-first into the headwaters of New York and came up for air five years later, almost by accident, in Denver. That’s where she and her collaborator Miller were able to develop The Still Tide, which was soon named 303 Magazine’s best up-and-coming local artist.
But with Each, After, Morsett is stepping up to the mic and fully claiming it, and The Still Tide, as her own. “I think I was hiding behind the band, for whatever reason,” she said. “But now, I’m ready.”
She calls Each, After, with its carefully placed comma and chill vibe, as “a sweet landing spot for these beautiful open guitar riffs that didn’t really fit the vibe of the last record,” she said. “I love the power of having that full band experience, but I also love the immediacy and intimacy of these tender little things. I’m trying to figure out how both of those vibes can fit in the same world.”
Morsett tantalizingly describes the E.P.’s four tracks as four very personal and true ruminations on past breakups. Tantalizing, because the fourth song is a reflection on a woman she hasn’t met yet.
“That last one, I guess, is kind of for the next person,” she said. “It's the hope for someone, I guess.”
When the time comes for The Still Tide to rise again.