Folk duo Alright Alright debut their new track, “By the Bed,” exclusively with C&I.
There’s a wide range within folk music. There’s traditional folk, like the plucky-guitar kind heard around the Maypole, the more alternative folk, built upon gritty edges and high strumming, and everything else in between. Rising indie folk duo Alright Alright manage to capture it all and more in their upcoming album, Nearby, available October 5.
Hailing from Denver, Alright Alright consist of husband and wife duo Seth and China Kent. Their eclectic music combines the refinement of a classically trained pianist (her) and the more casual approach of a guy who learned to play guitar on a beach in Hawaii, making for a pleasant interfusion in their original songs.
Album highlights from Nearby include “By the Bed,” a response to the controversies of the day and a run-in with an intruder. Its echoing guitars and light harmonies offset heart-wrenching lyrics.
“In the last weeks of February a couple years ago, I had the distinct honor of traveling to a unique and beautiful peace conference in Bethlehem,” Seth says. “It is hosted by the Bethlehem Bible College and brings together voices — Jewish, Palestinian Christian, Muslim, even dissenting voices — from across the globe who are interested in peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The end of this trip found me in Nazareth, which, in its modern format, is a truly remarkable place. It is perhaps my favorite city in Israel, yet on the second to last evening there, I found myself falling ill. Fever and chills sent me to bed early, and I woke up queasy for the bus ride to the coast. I was sick and jet-lagged when I arrived home very late on a night in early March. It was in this state that in the early morning of my second full day home, my dog and I were awakened by a strange noise outside. I sat up in bed, looked out the window, and saw an intruder climbing onto the roof of our house.
“In some ways, though not so explicit in its description, this song deals with our most controversial topics. You hear in the song how I end up on our roof with a gun, and conversations about guns are difficult right now. I make a reference to land seizures in Palestine, a very sensitive subject, even inside our close circles. I talk about homelessness — a subject that means a lot to me and China due to family members who have been homeless or in distressed housing situations.
“In that moment I shared with the trespasser on our roof, there seemed to be a strange juxtaposition in my life. My peace conference attendance was followed by what could have turned out to be one of the most violent interactions in my life. The fact that I had no desire to shoot this man kept the confrontation from ending far worse, and I am grateful for that. Yet questions rise each time I think of this interaction. I wonder how we got there, if I was wrong in my interaction, and even if not wrong, if there could have been a different and better way. The thought of the man — who never spoke to me — wearing only a sweatshirt, hospital pants, and bracelet, crouching on my roof, and me, on the same roof, holding him at gunpoint to make sure my family was safe, including my daughter, who was sleeping on the other side of the wall he was standing next to, will likely never leave me completely. I wonder if he thinks about it, too. I wonder if he got the help he needed.
“While I did use this song to explore questions of where our rights start and end, and where our privilege may have been wrongly reframed as rights, I didn’t want the references to be explicit, as I’m still analyzing my own motivations and intentions. The point of the song, from my perspective, is that even when times are painful, desperate, distressing, and confusing, we do better when we think of the other. Our entire human community is improved by empathy and compassion. Selfishness is the worst possible way for us to cope and is a damaging reaction for both ourselves and for the community as a whole.
“Those moments, when I had to decide not to shoot at least three times in the eight minutes we waited for the police to arrive, and [instead had] to believe this could end with minimum pain, were some of the most intense and formative moments in my life.
“On days where I find myself trying to retreat from the false reality of social media and the hectic pace of life, and the language of the nonstop news cycle, this song has become very meaningful and rather emotional. Sometimes I find myself wondering who wrote it when I hear it. I am both incredibly proud of this song as well as profoundly humbled to sing it. It is a constant reminder to lean into my fragility and brokenness and gratitude for where I am.”
Get an exclusive first listen to the moving track “By the Bed,” below.
For more information on Alright Alright, their upcoming tour dates, and their new album, visit their website. Photography: Matthew Greenlee/Courtesy Skye Media.