If life is measured by our leaps of faith, then singer-songwriter duo Chuck e. Costa and Mira Stanley have found a way to catch us midair as we jump headlong into the infinite abyss. They accompany each other with electric/acoustic guitars, the occasional banjo, piano, and percussion, but it is Chuck and Mira’s rich harmonies that provide the depth to their songwriting. Their perfectly matched voices sometimes share the back-and-forth conversations of the song’s characters and other times are the exchanges of one mind, weighing a decision, analyzing the moment, and trying to find the answers.
It was a sign – very literally – that first brought Chuck and Mira together. “She was actually holding a sign with my name on it,” recounts Chuck, who was showcasing in a songwriting contest that Mira had volunteered to stage-manage. However, it wasn’t until the fall of 2011, nearly five years later, when they reconnected to form The Sea The Sea. Once they began writing and singing together, it didn’t take long for Chuck and Mira to weave their voices into one.
“We had both just gone through major upheavals in our lives,” says Mira, “And we were ready to test our faith in what was possible – in our art and in the world.” They borrowed their name from Xenophon’s Anabasis, the ancient tale of Greek soldiers returning to their coastal home after a long arduous battle inland. “The Sea! The Sea!” is a cry of joy.
They’ve already received praise from NPR and No Depression and now, by enlisting the careful production of Todd Sickafoose (Ani DiFranco, Andrew Bird) with accompaniment like tuned wineglasses and swathing strings, they’ve created their honest and ethereal debut album, Love We Are We Love. The album finds the duo in suspended animation, exploring moments of the unfolding future through their sincere, story-line lyrics, intimate harmonies and emotive sonic landscapes.
“It wasn’t a theme we necessarily set out to pursue,” says Chuck, “but all of the songs on this record take place immediately before, in the midst of, or after a decisive plunge into the unknown, believing the proverbial net will appear. This could mean uprooting and moving somewhere new, what comes of falling in or out of love, following a dream—and the struggle to confront these things honestly.”
Indeed, The Sea The Sea implores us through beautiful song and their own connectedness to believe that we all exist in this world together, as we stare into the unknowable future. Though the album closes with the universal image of an amoebic flock of birds, Chuck and Mira shared the key to navigating it all at the very beginning, opening the album with the same belief that brought them together: “There is no such thing as having too much faith.”
What first began as a stack of songs that frontman Graydon James had amassed behind the drum kit in various bands during his university years eventually became a collection of recordings performed by the six-piece band, Graydon James & The Young Novelists. But over time, as James’ wife Laura Spink became integral to the creative process and the band began performing and touring as a duo, the more succinct banner of The Young Novelists was born.
James’ words carry a weight and depth that demand repeat listens. The hope, he says, is having a listener connect with the sentiment he explores, if not the specific subjects. “As personal as the songs are,” he offers, “I hope they’re connecting to other people in a way that goes beyond the situations I was writing about.” That connection is perhaps most intense from the stage. From major festivals like Mariposa and CMW to iconic theatres like the Neptune in Halifax to trendsetting hotbeds like Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern, The Young Novelists’ show is as engaging as it is endearing and has earned them slots alongside the likes of Cuff the Duke and The Strumbellas.
“Like the Decemberists but rockier and less quirky, like Americana but quirkier and rockier, a talented Toronto outfit.” — rock nyc
“beautiful, soaring, rootsy Canadiana” — herohill
The suggested admission donations are $20/general admission and $15/student. Advance tickets are now on sale, and any remaining tickets will be available at the door the night of the show.