In 2018, Harrisonburg, Virginia based Americana folk-rock group Strong Water released their second LP, Bearfoot. In the past few years, the band has made their mark touring up and down the Mid-Atlantic to ever-growing audiences. Having quickly risen as big players in the local and regional music scene, Strong Water’s newest LP found them refining their sound and channeling the best songwriting the group has offered yet.
Strong Water consists of Greg Brennan on guitar and vocals, Jessica “J.J.” Arey on fiddle and vocals, Tim Cannon on banjo, and Evan Hunsberger on drums and backing vocals. The album was engineered and mixed by Chad Altenberger of Three Arrow Sound Design, who also sat in on bass guitar. Altenberger and Brennan both wore the producer hat for this project. Strong Water funded and released the album independently. Brennan wrote the lyrics for most songs, with contributions by the rest of the band. Arey wrote the lyrics for one track, “Firefly.”
Opening on a simmering (mostly) instrumental track, “Tuscarora” captures the sense of wonder you get looking down from a mountaintop. The lead single, “If I Was,” is a beautiful love song that’s sure to become part of your personal playlists. J.J. Arey contributes some lead vocals on this track, as well as taking the lead on “Firefly.” The title-track “Bearfoot” recalls nostalgic memories of youth, while “Don’t Ask” inspires initiative and hope for the future. We see darkness in “Monsters” and “In Gold,” and tender truths in “Poison Drips.” Bearfoot features an updated version of their stomping fan-favorite “Derailed,” which had previously been released on their debut self-titled album. The album’s closing track “Bend” taps into some ambient indie-folk sounds that we haven’t heard from this band yet, an experiment that paid off for the group.
I’m a big fan of this record and am happy to have been able to review it. Being a Harrisonburg resident, it’s been fascinating watching this band grow and develop over the past few years. I’ve been in the audience at a few of their performances, and I can say this without hesitation: If they are coming to your area, Strong Water is not a band you want to miss. The energy you hear on this record is heightened in their live performances. Get your copy at www.strongwater.band