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Buried Beds: Stories Told (And Retold) In Spirit.

March 25, 2014

BuriedBedsOnlineText by Kevin Doran. Image by Timothy Becker.

In the beginning, there was … well, not much.

But humanity has a way of filling in the blanks. Every civilization has its own origin stories, myths held so close to the heart that we put them on par with empirical discovery.

Buried Beds knows a thing or two about origins and apocrypha. The West Philly-based chamber pop band’s name dates back to a youthful 1793 Philadelphia, when panic from a yellow fever outbreak led citizens to bury the beds of the infected underground. With Buried Beds, as with cultural apocrypha, there’s always a story behind the story.

Nowhere is that more apparent than with the band’s newly released full-length, In Spirit, which dropped in October with a Boot & Saddle record release show. Eliza Jones, who splits songwriting and lead vocal duties with lifelong friend Brandon Beaver, describes the follow-up to 2010’s Tremble the Sails as a challenge that forced the band to break down walls in their songwriting style. Instead of having the freedom to write about whatever they wanted, the band decided to write songs that were rooted in the mythology of various cultures.

“With this album specifically, we really challenged ourselves to essentially write a concept album where every song on the album had to be a story that was being retold,” Jones says. “So it started with folktales and then it got into other things that we consider modern folktales.”

But beyond drawing upon the influences of storytellers who preceded them, Beaver takes the songwriting process a step further by creating his own folktales on songs like “Widow’s Cup” and “Oh Lonely Fortress!”

“If every song is just this literal translation, that’s not as interesting to me,” Beaver says. “It went different directions but still under that umbrella of fairy tale, folktale kind of thing. ‘Widow’s Cup’ was just one. I saw the title – I don’t even remember what the story was – but it had the word ‘widow’ in it. So I just went, ‘Oh, I’ll just create a story about a really sad widow.’”

Backed by Jones’ keyboards and Beaver’s guitar licks, the album’s keystone is its mix of bouncy pop and haunting, atmospheric soundscapes led by Hallie Sianni’s piercing viola – not a violin, she is quick to clarify. Sianni joined up with Buried Beds nearly eight years ago – a drop in the ocean compared to Jones and Beaver’s history together – at the prompting of an Internet ad.

“Since then, I’ve come to know their world and their friends and it doesn’t feel like that’s how we connected,” says Sianni, whose reserved demeanor is more than offset by the sprightly effervescence of Jones and Beaver.

The album finds itself in the fortuitous position of introducing Brooklyn songwriter Kevin Devine’s brand-new Devinyl Records. Sianni describes Devine’s honest presence as a primary reason Buried Beds was attracted to the idea of working with him.

“There’s just an authenticity about Kevin and the people he plays with,” Sianni says. “He just really enjoys playing music and happens to have made a success out of it.”

Jones describes the relationship as more than just business-oriented.

“Kevin is one of those people we just had a total spirit connection with,” she says. “We connected on a friendship level and also on a musical level. So when we were going through the process of trying to figure out how we wanted to release the record, we all mutually decided it made sense to put it out on Kevin’s new label.”

With the backing of the proper label, In Spirit will see its vinyl release in 2014, but not before a series of videos to accompany each song on the album.

“In a sense, it’s the sister part of this record,” Beaver says, joking that they’ll finally finish the videos by spring of 2016. “Every nuance has to be interesting to look at and that complicated everything. It will be worth it in the end.”

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