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The War and Treaty: Down to the River

The War and Treaty are Tanya Blount and Michael Trotter Jr. You can catch them this Saturday at MOTR Pub! Their latest album is Down to the River, and I’m not sure there is a duo out there right now that takes vocals to the place that these two do or that takes roots sound and that have churned it into what they have created. We’ll get to the EP and all that they were able to do within its seven songs, but first we have to get to how we arrived here.

Michael spent time as a soldier in Iraq in 2004. His unit was encamped at one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces. In the corner was a black upright piano, which his unit confiscated. Michael being able to sing was encouraged by his captain to teach himself to play it. Michael did little by little and plugging away, and eventually sharing songs for his unit. After the death of that captain Michael wrote his first song and sang that song at the captain’s memorial in Iraq. He gave himself a mission to sing at the memorial services of those that had fallen, and for the next three years he sang for the members of his fellow unit. This eventually led to him performing in “Military Idol,” which he wound up winning, and after being discharged he was featured on the Hope Channel program “My Story. My Song.”

After being discharged, he eventually met Tanya Blount. Who in her own right, was well versed in the ways of performing. The two fell in love, got married, and used their own life experiences to form a musical collaboration that is now the: The War and Treaty.

Which leads us to the first ep released this year called “Down to the River.” This ep, I feel, is merely an introduction. Sort of like the foreword in a book, or the appetizer before the main course which led me, after my first listen, wanting to hear more. The ep is seven songs and thirty-three minutes of soul that will make the hair on your arms stand up. Tanya and Michael drive their vocal like a hammer through steel, and their harmonies blend so well that any metaphor would not be worthy. In fact, any metaphor to describe them doesn’t do them justice, because there is only one thing to do and that would be to listen to them. They do not wrangle in despair, they reach for something different. They mix in moonshine, beer, love, and life to create songs that make you feel something. What I love most about listening to them is how they have managed to merge different sounds and styles and make it their own style. Usually, and typically, a band’s sound is this or that but they merge folk, Americana, soul, blues, and gospel into a bowl and it is a journey I rather enjoy listening to.

I will end this with probably my favorite song on the EP called “Til The Morning.” Which showcases their vocals, and there are certain points where the song breaks down and if those vocals don’t give you goosebumps or move you in some form or fashion, well dear reader I’m afraid you are not human. The War and Treaty do some amazing things and their record is even more amazing to listen the second, third, or fourth time around. Pick it up or go see them, because I can only imagine their show will resemble some sort of tent revival, foot stomp, juke jointing good time. The War and Treaty, Tanya Blount and Michael Trotter Jr, and “Down to the River” is the ep do your ears and soul a favor and check them out, and more than once.