Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Seasonal band Folk Angel releases first full-length album
So far, they’ve only attempted holiday-inspired records, but they have been highly successful.
In the wake of Christmas covers -- some performed by local artists, others by, ahem, Justin Bieber -- a new kind of Christmas album has come out of North Texas, bringing a folksy, down home feel worthy of any holiday party. Made by Christian group Folk Angel, the album is the band's third Christmas record, titled Comfort and Joy – Christmas Songs Vol. 3.
The band is comprised of a close-knit group of friends -- Jeff Capps, Ryan Duckworth, Caleb Carruth, and Hunter Hall -- who stumbled across the desire to re-create Christmas songs a couple of years back.
Their inspiration started one night while the guys were hanging out, guitars in hand. "For some reason we started singing Christmas songs and thought we would work up a song for our wives," Duckworth said. "That's when we first sang 'Angels We Have Heard on High.' It was then that someone said that we should record a folk Christmas album, just for fun. So we did."
Three albums later, the guys are still at it. The eclectic mix of banjo, acoustic and Dobro guitars, xylophone, keys, and of course, jingle bells, have helped the band put their stamp on the usual Christmas tunes. They cite Sufjan Stevens, Coldplay, and local groups Fox and the Bird and the Dallas Family Band as inspiration. Tracks like “Comfort and Joy” featuring Christian artists Shane & Shane and “O Holy Night” featuring Jeff and Jourdan Johnson simplify the song's usual extravagance by slowing down the pace and focusing on the harmonies and the banjo. Everyone sings in the band, delivering a gentle yet masculine touch to the songs.
Each year, Folk Angel has progressively added more production or tracks to the record, pushing the bar further to end up with this year’s first full-length album, which came out on November 15. They used Carruth’s home recording studio, which was built specifically for Folk Angel and took some convincing to get his wife’s approval, to record and mix all three records, helping to expedite the process each year. The studio was already paid off by the success of the group prior to Comfort and Joy, but now their biggest endeavor has brought its own success by clenching the #4 spot on the Billboard Folk chart and #3 on the iTunes Christian & Gospel chart.
So far, they’ve only attempted holiday-inspired records, but after the release of their full-length album, the guys say that they are looking into the possibility of expanding to music outside of the Christmas genre. Because they are such good friends, the idea of continuing Folk Angel is an easy one.
"The world doesn’t need another band, but can always use another melody," Capps said. "Our desire is to paint a picture with music and melody that decorates and illuminates the story being told. We see it as a unique opportunity to be able to creatively present a song with four distinct vocals that all play a part in capturing the story. Our hope is that people will not only hear the story, but see the picture."