Synergy, a word that packs punch in the music industry– its bigness reserved for those extra special occasions, a total “wow” moment when the music just gels. In Echo Drop and their inaugural unicorn of an album, Hindsight, it’s evident that synergy has finally met its match.
The levels to which bandmates Jillian and Sean Mitchell augment the word is palpable. The marriage of voice and drums, for instance, (her, a soulful chanteuse with a 90s-rock edge; him, a groove-oriented drummer drawing from world-inspired rhythms) encompasses the heart of their music. It’s primal yet surprisingly current, another caveat that screams “better together.”
(A sentiment echoed right there in their band name: “voice” [echo] and “drums” [drop a beat].)
And then there’s their actual marriage (yes, they’re a couple, not siblings) which adds yet another layer. And though some would caution against the mixing of work and love (Lindsey and Stevie come to mind; The White Stripes, too) in the duo’s case, it proves a recipe for perfection, authenticity and art at its most raw. Because outing your true feelings about your spouse to your spouse–and to the world–takes guts. And isn’t that the kind of guts we all aspire to have? (Plus, one can only assume that if the players can weather the storm, this level of intimacy might just be the recipe for, as Winwood would say, a “higher love.”)
Now for the soundscape. Hindsight is an artistically uninhibited and ingenious pop-rock mix that melds music’s most treasured elements: voice and drums. It’s reminiscent of the group’s humble beginnings, at an impromptu coffee shop performance with an ice bucket, a drummer and a mezzo-soprano, for which they received rave reviews. And as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke … leave it the hell alone.
With ambient melodic structures to round out the voice-drum foundation, the duo’s writing reflects all the edges with which they like to push and play. The couple describes their vibe as an “alleyway jam session between Alanis Morissette and Jessie J,” and yet, their alchemy and connection show them making detours into their own, signature sound of electronic pop and organic rock, with commanding drum grooves and soaring, vulnerable vocals.
Offering their unique and universal perspective, the couple writes of love and heartbreak, self-realization, and human equality, as they take the listener on a journey of their relationship and musical influences. A highlight of the project, the album was crafted under the mentorship of Juno-nominee Emm Gryner (recording artist, David Bowie), whose heart-wrenching piano track is featured on the first single “Let it Burn.” Following on the album is the very angsty-in-a-good-way “Separate from You,” which vibes hard on ’90s grunge with a twist of Lilith Fair, while the ever spunky, world-inspired “Hindsight” will have you fist-pumping in the driver’s seat. We eventually go full-on dance with the mod-disco “Falling For You,” dedicated to the couple’s early clubbing days. And rounding out the sound, the heartbreaking piano-driven ballads such as “Right Here” and “No Matter What” that rivel Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” as the must-have songs on your boombox, high overhead, Cusack-style.
The album, as a whole, works. And somehow, despite crossing multiple genres with an array of “new-ish to the ear” instruments, the songs seamlessly flow, one to the next, with voice and drums as the tapestry’s thread. After the last track (the incredibly haunting “Landsmen’s Girls”) two words inevitably come to mind: more, please.
Recording the album in their home studio was a big (but welcome) change from touring North America, South America and Asia. At home, the couple does the normal “musical couple things” you might expect–recording, chasing after their two kiddos (Jagger & Journey), and actively contributing to their industry through educational ventures, Voxsana and Drum Geek. The foursome resides on Canada’s beautiful West Coast in Victoria, BC, Canada. ▪