Somewhere You Found My Name
As much as we celebrate our singular snowflake status on this earth, the hard truth is that each of our own personal books of life read much the same as those of our neighbors. Comings and goings, takings and givings, leaps and losses and ashes and dust… Brooklyn’s Little Silver have come to well understand the nature of shared experience, and together work in harmony to pilot—and take passage on—their course. The married duo of Erika Simonian and Steve Curtis have written their debut LP, Somewhere You Found My Name, as a testament to life’s universal and specific powers, drawing upon their own history to confront a shifting landscape of gaining and losing loved ones, perspective, and innocence. The stories throughout the album acknowledge the love of a family and the uncertainty of life: its torn edges, the things left undone and unresolved, and how we come to live with them.
“Our experience on one level is transformative but on another is totally mundane,” Curtis says. “We have family who are sick and dying, and kids who are being born and growing; the whole landscape of what we know is changing, as happens to every person who’s ever been alive. It’s not revelatory to claim it as profound, but at the same time it is profoundly personal.”
Curtis and Simonian were both touring musicians when they met in New York some years ago, he with the tranquil folk group Hem and she with myriad harder-rocking outfits. They fell in love and married two years later, forming Little Silver as a duo in 2010. They released an EP of sparse but gorgeous original songs, The Stolen Souvenir, late that year, and then a covers record, Dress Up, in 2012. Their sound was largely built from and based around their own duet vocals, finding influence in the harmonies and interactions of Low, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, and even Exene Cervenka and John Doe of X.
“Our songs aren’t straight-up, lyrically, they’re more complex and confusing, and I think it’s interesting that a husband and wife are singing these emotionally confusing songs together,” Simonian says.
“The fact that we are a couple is a central and unavoidable part of the band, and a big part of the engine that gives us creative energy,” Curtis says. “It’s a huge privilege to be creative partners with the person you’ve chosen for your capital-P partner.”
As the duo would add a drummer and bassist to flesh out their intimate sound for live concerts around New York, so too grew Curtis and Simonian’s family, with the birth of a little girl not long after the release of the EP. Several years of playing shows passed, with logistics forcing Little Silver to tour the country as a two-piece, and work eventually began on a full-length album, with designs on a bigger, fuller vibe with more instrumentation. They brought on Curtis’s long-time musical kinsman Gary Maurer to produce, as well as two drummers, Ray Rizzo and David Tarica—only one of whom, Rizzo, would actually play the drums on the record.
“After the EP we wanted to explode the palette a little bit,” Simonian says. “We handed a bass guitar to a drummer, and both Ray [drums] and David [bass] organically contributed their individuality to the project.”
Relying entirely on Maurer to engineer and record, the songwriting duo were recused from any technical focus and felt liberated to concentrate completely on writing, playing, and singing. That is, of course, until they received quite a surprise in the middle of the process: Simonian was pregnant with the couple’s second daughter.
“That held us up in the middle for a while,” Simonian says. “We worked up until the birth; I was eight months pregnant for one of the last recording sessions. It took a lot of coordination to schedule studio time once we had that second and tiny baby.”
While the majority of the album’s songs were written prior to the break, a lone number—the album’s final, its title track—was inspired by the unplanned arrival. The gently strummed, whisper-soft tune has all the appearance of a couple’s love song but closer inspection reveals its true intended, instant intimacies.
“It’s about this child coming into the world from who knows where, mid-album, and the cosmological freakout it is to have this person join your life,” Curtis says. “I like that it sounds like this intimate, romantic thing and that it’s actually not to your lover but this new life. These moments in the album may not be headlines in and of themselves, but they’re these personal catalysts for us making art; there’s nothing more moving, however commonplace it is, than losing and gaining family.”
Throughout Somewhere You Found My Name are songs about growth, loss, commitment, change, and the evolution of relationships with people and places. The album-opening “The Luckiest Thief” details the fortunate feeling that follows moments spent with a person who for all intents and purposes you should have already lost; it is a moving, sweeping tune that Curtis calls an emotional cornerstone. “The Slowing and the Start” is a powerful song about the leap into the unknown that two people take who commit themselves to to a relationship and starting a family. “One Stepper,” despite its poppy and catchy surface, is a montage of addicts known by the singers and the confusion and hardship wrought on their collective lives. And the way in which the earnest, reverb-laden “You Slept Through Summer” was written may serve as the best example of how the guiding nucleus of Little Silver operates.
“I remember Steve playing that opening sequence and thinking it was really beautiful,” Simonian says. “One of us said that line —‘you slept through summer’—and we hung onto it, building the rest of the song around that beginning.”
“The other person catches the thing that stands out,” Curtis echoes. “We have guitars out all the time in our little apartment—partly because there’s nowhere else to put them—and so there’s a constant exchange. The pleasure of working and creating with someone you live with and love is awesome and it’s really productive and rewarding.
May we all share the profound joy—however commonplace it may be—of which Little Silver sing.
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