Album Review: A Will Away – ‘Soup’

Posted: by The Editor

Grab your bowls and your spoons, because the bell has rung and the soup is on. Connecticut-based Americana rock band A Will Away have emerged from a creative hiatus and released their long anticipated sophomore EP, Soup. The record couldn’t be more appropriately titled, because the songs elicit the same familiar warmth that you can associate with a good, hearty bowl of soup. The connotations of soup are centered around the idea that a cup of broth can be a mystical “cure-all,” and that a sense of home is all you need to feel better. 

The band has recently invested much of their time into building their studio, Steadfast Studios, in their home town of Naugatuck, CT. Splitting their attention between solidifying their futures and perfecting the next releases has given rise to a purported recluse nature for the group, but their engagement with the music community has only doubled since they began these recent endeavors. Assisting in opening a new venue, the Gem Room, on the floor beneath their studio, A Will Away is focused on giving developing artists opportunities that they strove for themselves. This is how I got to know each of them, and how I found myself knee deep in the AWA camp and their incredible songwriting. 

 While recording my own project at Steadfast, I had the privilege of diving deep into the lore of Soup (and beyond). Spending a whole morning with vocalist/guitarist Matt Carlson while waiting for other guitarist/vocalist Collin Waldron to get to the studio, I learned the inspirations behind the EP, and what it meant to the band to release it. Soup was 100% produced and perfected in house by the band and engineer Dominic Nastasi (of All Get Out), because the feelings of close companionship and familiarity are central to the record. The album cover is even a photo of Carlson’s dog, Odie. The songs touch on many personal, first-hand moments for Carlson and his family history, like in “Evaporate,” where the comfort of home is disrupted by loss (“Baited fish hook, seven stages; woke up wearing your skin today/ She’d like to hear that it’s over. She’d love to know I’m okay,”). 

There’s a delicate balance between breaking out in order to see the great, wide world, and having a safe place to return when you need it. A Will Away teeters on the fulcrum of this balancing act, comparing moments of yearning for the dream (“Lately I feel like I’ve had enough, but I’m not settling.”) with a need for comfortability and a safety net (“I tried to live by good decisions, and then I ran out of cash,”). 

 The band has taken a lot of time to develop their signature Americana sound, blending the warm tones and ripping solos of late 60’s-early 70’s rock with contemporary themes and lyricism. Watching them from the couch in the control room as they meticulously switched out guitars and turned pedals on and off just to find the perfect tones for each track was both exciting and mind-numbingly laborious. A Will Away is the kind of group that packs an insane amount of detail into every individual track of every song, but still knows how to have fun with it (evidenced by all the conversational sampling in the hilarious “Sea Hag Blues,” which itself is an inside joke with the band). I think one of the most important strengths of Soup and AWA in general is their ability to take an organic, unique moment and build a technically proficient work of art from its foundation. 

I remember when I first pulled up to the studio for the first day of recording, I had to shake it out in my car before going in because I was so excited and nervous to work with one of my absolute favorite bands. After spending a week sleeping in their various living rooms, drinking cheap Buzz Balls before vocal takes, and really connecting with each of them, I couldn’t believe I had ever been so nervous. They were kind, loads of fun, and open to discussing everything from music to our own personal lives. They instantly became some of my closest friends, and that aura radiates from their music as well. The goal of Soup is to make you feel better, and it’s only the first course. I hope you saved your appetites, because the next round of A Will Away is going to fill you with the same feeling of warmth and friendliness that everyone who spends even a day with the band feels. 

Luciano Ferrara | @LucianoRFerrara

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