Local singer-songwriters Jeri Katherine Howell and Nat Colten debuted their duo album "Holding On" Tuesday.
Though the couple — in music and life — has performed together for years and previously collaborated on a track for Howell’s 2013 album "Collage," this new album marks their first duo project, and is Colten’s debut album as a singer-songwriter.
Written over several years of traveling and living in different states and countries, the songs of "Holding On" reflect on what it means to come back to Kentucky and hold on to their hometown, the land they live on, each other and community amid times of chaos and difficulty.
“We pulled the album together after we came back from living in Costa Rica and made the intentional decision to root in Kentucky and make music here,” Howell said. “It was an exhalation.”
Composed of five tracks written by Howell and five by Colten, "Holding On" celebrates the duo’s connection to place and community. The album includes songs written across several years and sometimes even across different continents, but the resulting work is a seamless reflection on the interconnection and interdependence of nature, self and community, with threads of social and environmental justice.
“It’s very much a homecoming album,” Colten said. “It’s about what home means to me, and the people and places I’ve grown up around and how they’ve contributed to my heart.”
Born and raised in Frankfort, Howell and Colten grew up on bluegrass, Appalachian, country, classical and world musical traditions, and they sow seeds of each into their own lyrics and melodies to create a signature folk/Americana sound. With Howell on guitar and Colten playing banjo, their vocals pour out like bourbon and Ale-8-One — a sweet burn, mixed well and meant to be.
"Holding On" was recorded on Howell’s former family farm in Frankfort, a place of deep significance to both Howell and Colten as children and adults. The project features musical accompaniment from an array of talented Kentucky artists — Jordon Ellis (drums, recording, mixing), Ellie Miller (fiddle, viola), Nathan Link (bass), and Braden Urevick (guitar).
The album was mastered by Justin Perkins of Mystery Room Mastering in Wisconsin.
Frankfort photographer Joa Brance, Handmade/Photography, shot the cover art beneath an old shagbark hickory tree on the former family farm.
After more than a year of writing and recording at home, Howell and Colten are excited to return to the live music scene with a summer-long series of monthly Friday-night performances at West Sixth Farm in Frankfort. The farm is also hosting the CD release show on Friday, July 9, at which the musicians featured on the CD will perform together on a live stage for the first time.
The shows are 7-9 p.m. and are free and open to the public.