Austin duo Beth // James' debut EP, All In Life, is the product of two award winning musicians, Mikaela Beth Kahn and Jordan James Burchill. The name comes from two halves of one whole, taking a piece of each artists' middle name to create on entity. Often compared to The Civil Wars, Beth // James navigates effortlessly among American music traditions, rooted in storytelling, but with added indie pop/rock elements, intricate guitar work and arresting harmony.
The duo began writing together in 2015, though they met in 2008 while studying jazz at the University of North Texas. In April 2017, the duo released their debut EP All In Life, and received critical acclaim from Austin-based and national media alike. Tackling love, their adopted hometown of Austin, and more, All In Life is simultaneously unexpected and familiar, infused with "a shimmering mix of modern folk, mindful pop, and Americana Charm. The EP taps into the should of a rhythmic back and forth between two distinct voices blending into one, "according to Paste Magazine. Most recently, their song "Lion Eyes", was featured in Spike Lee's four-time Golden Globe, six-time Academy Award nominated film 'BlacKkKlansman'.
Now the duo is set to release their second EP, Falling on Friday, February 1st, 2019. With just three tracks, Falling is their most personal compilation of songs yet. The duo takes listeners on a heartfelt journey, dealing with the disappointments, confusion and struggles of the past year, all the while maintaining hope.
The first track, "Wasted on Sundays", speaks to millennial culture and the idea of projecting one's life through social media in an effort to curate a picture of perfection. "Everyone seems to be putting on the same facade, pretending they know exactly what they're doing, but we're really all just winging it," said Beth // James. "Trying to figure everything out and create a life we love. The second track, "Blurry", nods to the unsettling state of our country in 2018 and reflects on dealing with disappointment and the confusing nature of life. The final track, "Falling", is a love song. "To us, the most romantic thing isn't just roses and happiness, it's choosing to be together through everything," said Beth // James. The ballad lilts with delicate upright piano, sparkling pedal steel, and tender bowed bass, saying "never will we be too far away because I'm taking you with me."
The EP was recorded in just a matter of days in September 2018 at King Electric Studios in Austin, Texas. The self-produced EP features Kahn on vocals and piano, Burchill on vocals and guitar and was recorded by Justin Douglas. The EP was recorded all to 2-inch tape with everyone in the same room, resulting in a very warm, unified sound, but "The main focus of our sound is always our two voices singing harmony together," said Beth // James.
Both Kahn and Burchill come from diverse musical backgrounds and this influence can be heard throughout. As a sideman, Burchill has played guitar for artists like Ndambi, Avant, and local Austin artists Brannen Temple, Tameca Jones, and Alesia Lani. Kahn has sung with Grammy award-winning artists Chrisette Michelle and Christopher Cross, and pop/rock legend Ben Folds.
Their debut EP, All In Life, was named one of "5 Standout EP's" of 2017 by the Austin-American Statesman, the national blog, PopDose, named them as "top new artists of 2017", and the duo was voted "Best New Austin Band" Runner-Ups in the 2017 Austin Music Awards. They were finalists in NewSong’s national LEAF 2016 Singer-Songwriter Competition, finalists in the Best Duo/Group category of the International Acoustic Music Awards 2016, and won top honors in the 2016 Indie International Songwriting Competition.
"Melodically tender and sultry folk"
-The Dallas Observer
"All In Life, combines a shimmering mix of modern folk, mindful pop, and Americana charm. The EP taps into the soul of a rhythmic back and forth between two distinct voices blending into one."
"Sophisticated folk-pop." Named one of "5 Standout EPs" for 2017.
-Peter Blackstock, Austin American-Statesman
"Supremely delicate, achieving a perfect infusion...smooth and harmonious to a (cough) tee."
"Feels like something The Civil Wars would have once done, except that Beth // James fans the flames of soul even stronger."
"They're fine singers when they trade verses, but when they harmonize, as George Takei would say, "Oh My."
"Oh so sweet on the ears. While the nightly news was filled with loud, angry and ugly headlines, the lovely tunes flowing from deep in the heart of Texas proved to be the perfect antidote." Named in Top New Artists of 2017.
"Interjecting an indie pop sensibility into their folk exoskeleton."
"A class Apart...I couldn't help but stand back and wonder how I'd missed this Austin duo to this point.."
"Sounds like the promise of days growing longer, and the possibilities of youth."
-The Autumn Roses
"Burchill and Kahn evoke a gorgeous folk atmosphere filled with a sense of its own expansiveness.
"Colorful and dreamy, will leave the listener in a trance until the very end."
- Track Rambler
"Their sweet acoustic melodies make you think of open fields and swinging hammocks."