Most musicians “turn pro” hoping to make a living making art. Few would turn their nose up at a little critical praise or commercial success. But music plays a more novel role in the lives of Sheree Plett and Jeremy Eisenhauer, collectively known as The Eisenhauers: Touring is a tie that binds their marriage together.
The Eisenhauers play the Revelstoke Coffee House this Saturday, April 22, at the Revelstoke United Church starting at 7:30 p.m.
So if you’re wondering how this winsome country roots duo with heartbreakingly sweet vocals, stirring harmonies and beguiling acoustic picking escaped your attention for the past twelve years, well, they were just too busy being a happy troubadour family to think of telling media they existed.
Until now that is.
Having followed Jeremy’s carpentry enterprise to Kaslo, B.C. and merged their respective solo projects into a single, breathtaking act, they decided to try their hand at a more conventional music career – so they went to Nashville to make a record with the go-to-guy for great roots music: Steve Dawson, and they came away with a record deal with Dawson’s Black Hen label.
Now they’re readying the release of their duo debut, The Road We Once Knew, due April 21.
The album is packed with all the stuff great southern roots is made of: authentic, downhome songs about family, rural life, and yes, even church.
“I wanna live some place where somebody can know my name,” Sheree sings wistfully at the start of “Don’t Lose Me” – a song Jeremy started while still living in Vancouver, dreaming of small town life and lamenting the lack of human connection in the city.
“Thank You for the Years” is a touching song of gratitude for Sheree’s mom – the subject of several tracks on the album — who lived with the couple after they moved to Kaslo, then died unexpectedly.
And “Idaho” is a sweet song about the family’s frequent road trips to a rural church in the state, which see them reconnecting during the early morning drives and enjoying music and community with the American country folk they meet at their “refuge.”
Perhaps the only song on the album that isn’t derived from the Eisenhauer’s own family life is “Spent On You,” a song that reflects Jeremy’s fascination with Taylor Swift. After growing curious about her appeal, he got addicted to the album Red, and began experimenting with writing a Swift-style breakup song in The Eisenhauers’ musical style. He was forced to “borrow” the actual “source breakup” from elsewhere in the family though, since Jeremy and Sheree’s marriage is progressing swimmingly.
The pair met when both were recent college drop-outs looking to connect with other musicians in B.C.’s Fraser Valley. Jeremy started out as an awkward fanboy of Sheree’s divine singing voice and extreme coolness, so his early attempts at getting to know her were less than seductive. Fortunately, the opportunity to tour together as part of a larger band cemented their relationship, and they were married two years later.
However, it wasn’t until Jeremy found himself unemployed that music became central to their marriage. On a whim, he decided to book the pair a three month tour to allow them to promote their respective solo CDs. The experience of living out of a Subaru for three months brought them closer together and inspired them to make touring a regular part of their lives.
They toured cross-Canada four times as solo artists, and they toured Western Canada at least 13 times. Each time, they’d play the west-to-east leg of the tour as Sheree Plett and the return leg as Eisenhauer – each taking his/her turn backing the other on stage. Occasionally, the industry took note; staff of the Feldman agency expressed their admiration but said they figured the duo wasn’t interested in being the next Avril Lavigne – a totally fair conclusion.
Much has happened in the past three years to put the pair on a path to a more fulfilling type of musical career. First, the slower pace of life in their new home of Kaslo allowed them to connect as songwriters like never before, paving the way for a true duo project. Secondly, a meeting with Dawson shortly before the move cemented their relationship with a producer who could elevate their sound without compromising its authenticity.
The result is an album that many music fans will discover with the same sense of revelation that they once discovered artists such as Casey Chambers, Shawn Colvin and Anais Mitchell. The heavenly vocals, the simple, heartrending string arrangements, the gentle harmonies and the duo’s overall maturity of sound will endear them to all who love sweet, earthy acoustic roots.