Been wondering what Disaster Kenz is up to these days? Well, she has been writing a shit ton of music! Please check out her band Strange Heavy where she keeps it sultry and rocking with her man, and you can also enjoy this solo set of her on original vocals and cello.
Listen: Laila Belle
Imagine it's summer. The air is hot but not too sticky, a few puffy clouds give way to an endless plateau of blue sky, and you're in a car next to someone you love. A lot. Moving at high speeds with no destination, the windows are down and you feel like a bird. Young again. The road itself. You feel a little bit like a song.
This scene is what Perry City NY's country folk band Laila Belle evokes from the first moment you push play. As alt as traditional country can get, Laila Belle weaves beautiful melodies and harmonies, sophisticated yet relatable lyrics, and dreamy instrumentation into a self titled debut album that even Jeff Tweedy or Joan Baez could get stuck on repeat. Led by badass country couple Amy and Ward Puryear, this twelve song disc of all original music seems to have been carried from the heavens by larks. But Laila Belle's inception was not without strife.
Amy Puryear, formerly Glicklich, studied music education at Ithaca College. She fell in love with the area, as many people do, and stayed beyond her schoolwork to invest in the music scene. The Finger Lakes region is no stranger to good music. Old Crow Medicine Show, Donna the Buffalo, and Richie Stearns all hail from the fields and hills surrounding Ithaca, NY, and have grown up playing music together and with Ward Puryear, songwriter and guitarist with Laila Belle. Amy performed solo vocals and guitar for years, including recording an album with hundreds of children in Guatemala. Amy and Ward met and fell in love amidst the music and have been notably involved with the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, a growing family affair. Although Amy's greatest passion is singing, she took several years off to raise a family with Ward, a sacrifice so many conscious musician mothers have to make.
When Amy and Ward decided it was time to focus on music again, they dove right into arranging songs and a band. Jason Shegogue, electric and lap steel guitarist, filled out the core of Laila Belle, initially called The Double EE.
Although early receptions of the band were positive, they've struggled to hold onto additional band members. A bass player moved away, one drummer wasn't the right fit, another drummer was too invested in a different band, and so on and so on. At least five years, two failed studio sessions, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears later, the Puryears had no album, and maybe no more chances to make it.
Fast forward to 2015, and Amy made a decision. It was now or never. It was music or not. It was her dream, or it wasn't. The Puryears had connections to Fleetwood Shack, the Nashville studio belonging to Bill Reynolds (of Band of Horses fame). Amy launched a thoughtful and aggressive crowdfunding campaign, and with the help of that money, plus grandma watching their boy, Amy and Ward took Jason down to Nashville. Reynolds stepped in on bass and Dana Billings of Big Mean Sound Machine took to the drums. The Double EE got a new name, and the world got a new record. Laila Belle was born.
I got the wind in my sails, but it just died down.
Thus begins Laila Belle. The band, the album, the next step in a long journey of sharing stories of the road, love, loss, and music. Listen to On Down the Line when you need to get out of your chair and dance with your sweetie, or Nothin' when you feel melancholy because he broke your heart. Songbird will make you melt into the floor of your kitchen, while Cochise County will get you daydreaming about shuffling the border sands of the southwest. Lilting vocals, sweet acoustics, and ethereal guitar glissandos will carry you for fifty minutes of pure honey. Whichever song you choose, it will take you somewhere.
Just like where Laila Belle is going.
Check out www.lailabelle.com to stay in the loop.