On its surface, “Shake it Out,” the latest from Austin-based indie-Americana duo Beth // James comes across as a revamped take on a certain 2014 hit from a global pop star. Yet upon further listening, you hear a blast of newfound roots-rock energy, not often heard in this era of twangy solemnity.
After two meaningful EPs, the duo is back with their debut album Get Together, recorded and produced by James Petralli of White Denim. Singing about the dog of their dreams, an ill-fated group tattoo, and saved voicemails of a lost loved one, Beth // James wields poignant everyday details to chronicle both the most carefree, and most challenging themes of their career. It’s an album that spans genres, hopping from gaze-to-infinity Americana twang, to twinkling vintage-inflected indie pop, to hold-your-lighter-to-the-air love songs.
Glide is premiering the new single “Shake It Out,” which knocks together pop and Americana with refreshing candor and biting musical chops. The psych-rock buzz of White Denim’s influence can be heard on the standout track where memorable classic rock hooks and a slick guitar solo make this track a go-to listen..
“Lately, we’ve been interested songs that don’t take themselves too seriously so we wanted this one to just be carefree. Pure fun. It’s basically about working all day on emails and constantly being bombarded with screens. The feeling of just wanting to cut loose, hangout, and not think about anything,” says the duo.
“We rewrote parts of the chorus over and over again. We finally landed on Monterey. We’ve never been there, but we love the show Big Little Lies and always thought it looked beautiful. Our producer, James had a really cool idea of adding that “arp” melody in the verses which really brought those verses to life. “
“Originally, the solo in the bridge was written out as a double lead i.e. the Allman Brothers, but as we starting adding more around it (doubling it with sitar and our voices) we decided it didn’t need a harmony. We all took turns singing along with the solo and tucked our voices way back in there and now it might be our favorite part of the song.”
Mixing musical traditions is natural for the newly married duo, who first met at the University of North Texas’s prestigious jazz program, and cut their teeth on jazz guitar and vocals. Both highly accomplished players, Jordan and Mikaela are deeply embedded in the Austin music scene, and have gathered a constellation of like-minded friends who contribute throughout the record. Jordan has been a collaborator of Austin psych-rockers White Denim in the past, and their shared love of jazz, great songwriting, and all things guitar proved to be a perfect fit. “We listened to so many records together throughout the recording process” says Mikaela, “and spent a ton of time just talking about life and guzzling coffee.”