almost group use useIt’s a busy week for the band Gavilan. The band, which mixes country rock a la Drive By Truckers and jam band explorations, released a new EP, Almost a Lie, this week. Tonight they’re playing a co-release party at the Grape Room in Manayunk with Borrowed Equipment and, on Thursday they’re at the Roadhouse Inn in Levittown for a Gashouse Radio interview and performance.

The band considers the song “Sangamon River Lament” the lynchpin of Almost a Lie. It was recorded last summer during a two-day session with Matt Muir at Retro City Studios. It’s a collection of songs that, said bassist Jeff Klemns, is “A little less about other people and a little personal.” The song in particular, according to guitarist Joe Altman, became the one that, during recording, seemed to unify the collection.

almost a lieSongwriting and vocal duties in the band are split between Klemens and Altman. “Sangamon River Lament” is Klemens’ songs, one of two waltz-time country tracks on Almost a Lie.

The band is rounded out with Matt Chicchi on lead guitar and drummer Jack Firneno. Joining the band at these sessions was cellist Andrea Weber, and singer Brianna Lee sang backup vocals on just this track.

The new EP is a collection of songs that, said Klemens, is “A little less about other people and a little personal.” The song in particular, according to Altman, became the one that, during recording, seemed to unify the collection.

Listen to “Sangamon River Lament” here, and read what the band had to say about it.
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On the opening line:

almost release posterI was driving my uncle Marty to the airport in Peoria, Illinois. My mother’s funeral had been the day before and her brothers and sisters were heading back to their own lives but he was the first to go. We talked for a while but it’s a long drive, and it was quiet, and I just glanced up in the rearview mirror. And I had one of those moments where I realized how big the sky is out there.

People from the midwest who have gone away to other places will understand this feeling. I bet it happens for a lot of people when they step off the plane at a regional airport. This overwhelming sense of  “Oh yeah, there it is,”  which is strange because it’s not something being there, it’s something not being there.  So it’s the presence of an absence. — Jeff Klemens

On writing and recording the song:

The first line just hit me, but it took me years to finish the rest of the song. It’s about my mom’s funeral. It would get too heavy and I’d have to put it aside. And then I finished it. And it’s definitely the most personal thing I’ve ever written. And that was about the time when we started talking about doing this new record. — Jeff Klemens

I remember it being around for months before we actually played it. It features the most non-full-time band members of any we’ve done yet, with Brie singing and the string section, which I think Andrea overdubbed three or four parts. — Matt Chicchi

almost groupAt first this track would blend with “Speak to Me Softly” for me. I had recently joined and was still getting inside all the songs and they’re both slower, waltz-time country songs. Recording, I think Matt Muir could hear more of it in the control room than I could. Him being a drummer too, he became much more involved  in this one than others.

I was a little frustrated because I wanted to get to the next song, and I was wondering whether we should have two waltzes on a five-song release. Of course, I heard the rough, with the cello parts and all, and was floored. Of all the songs I’ve recorded with various bands, this one has become my favorite to listen to. — Jack Firneno

It seems like the culmination of the album. It embodies the spirit of the E.P. I think the arrangement that we used for the studio track really fits the song well. I like how the dynamic elements fit the mood of the song. — Joe Altman

It became the axis around which the rest of this record spun. — Jeff Klemens

Gavilan performs at The Grape Room, 105 Grape St. in Manayunk, tonight. The show starts at 8:30 with Brianna Lee and includes Borrowed Equipment and Figment.

The band will perform an acoustic set and live interview for Gashouse Radio at the Roadhouse Inn, 2200 New Falls Road in Levittown, on Thursday. April 7.

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