The contemporary folk/Americana genre is a tricky one to navigate. Beyond the practical concern of making a living in a niche market, there’s also the authenticity problem to worry about: Go too far afield of tradition and you’ll get accused of artificiality, but cling too much to the sound of your musical forebears and you run the risk of being called derivative.
It’s kind of a no-win situation, and the only real way for artists in the genre to handle it is to be true to themselves. Troy and Paula Haag are a husband-and-wife duo and BMI Songwriters who walk that tightrope better than most, with a bare-boned approach that places the emphasis on Troy’s delicate acoustic guitar and everyman vocals, Paula’s harmonies and subtle percussion, and the couple’s plaintive songs of love, devotion and discord, laying bare their gift for unfussy melodies that are just plain pretty.
Troy and Paula Haag released their first full-length album, The Century, in early 2012. The album was inspired by nature, informed by history and deeply rooted in a sense of place. It is elemental songwriting; stripped down and basic with the song itself taking center stage. The ten-track album was recorded at Southern Gothic Studios in Nineveh, Virginia. The duo played all of instruments, sang all of the parts and covered all of the studio engineering and production.
This same DIY aesthetic was applied to their second release, Migrate, released in April of 2015. Migrate consists of ten original compositions that were again written, performed, recorded and engineered at Southern Gothic Studio. Where The Century was purposely a sonically stripped down affair, Migrate finds the duo confidently stretching out in the studio and exploring a wider sonic palette.
Live From Bright Box, their latest offering, is an 8 song collection of new songs and old favorites recorded live at the Bright Box Theater in downtown historic Winchester, Virginia.
The duo’s commitment to music stems from an innate ability to appreciate the people and places that have affected their lives in sometimes simple, but more often than not, very profound ways. According to one review, “the inherent ability to capture these moments in an engaging and musical manner is where Troy and Paula excel...common folk that’s uncommonly good.”
The Century, Migrate and Live From Bright Box are all available for download and physical purchase at iTunes, & CD Baby and here on their website. Physical copies are available by mail order through their official website, and at all live performances.