On Talking Under Water, the debut LP by the Rochester, NY group of the same name, songwriter Dave Chisholm and his cohorts craft lo-fi indie rock that combines love of a big chorus with a deep appreciation of nuanced songwriting. Tinged with blues and gospel, Talking Under Water is full of harmony vocals, honky-tonk keys, and joyful horns swaying together in a celebration of everything that’s great about a sweaty rock show.
The ink was barely dry on both Chisholm’s 2013 Doctorate in Jazz Trumpet and his debut graphic novel when he found himself confronting a crisis of music faith. “I was really kind of burned-out on jazz”, says Chisholm, “and found myself again writing a bunch of songs with really painful lyrics that, at the time, I wasn't even aware where this pain was coming from.” Chisholm recruited friends Alex Patrick (guitar), Elise Hughey (cello), and Joe Parker (drums) and together they set out to make a record. They recorded in December 2015 in an old church that had been converted into a recording studio.
Music can mend a broken heart, and Chisholm wrote the bulk of Talking Under Water while navigating the treacherous emotional waters of divorce. Writing, revising, and fine-tuning these songs took on a healing role for Chisholm as the dust settled. During this lengthy process, Chisholm and Hughey came to realize they were meant to be more than just musical partners. “It's kind of a strange situation,” explains Chisholm. “Elise is good friends with my ex-wife and we all get along, there's no bad blood. In the wide world of divorces, situations like this are really extremely rare, and we all owe it to a commitment to communication, honesty, and conscious examination.” Hughey’s insight and love turned out to be integral to both Chisholm’s emotional healing and his songwriting, imbuing the record with a deep sense of self-reflection and personal honesty.
The majority of Talking Under Water was written on an antique 1800s piano with a great old thuddy sound that inspired much of the lilting blues undercurrent heard throughout the record. Recorded at Temperamental Studios in Geneseo, NY, much of the record was tracked live. Grammy winner Stephen Roessner (Saxon Shore) produced and mixed the record. Joining them in the studio were violinist Marja Alanen, Molly Werts McDonald and violist Ben Magruder, jazz trombonist Brendan Lanighan, and Matthew Sieber-Ford on tenor saxophone, all conservatory-trained.
Joyously cathartic and reveling in its internal darkness, Chisholm hopes that Talking Under Water can help listeners through their own hard times. “I think sad or depressing music, in my life, has been so much more useful than happy music” says Chisholm. “Happy music doesn't cheer me up when I'm down. Sad music, though, it empathizes with you, it sits there with you and tells you you're not alone.’
released April 28, 2017
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