A fusion of jazz, folk and hip-hop influences, Copper And Congress' new album "Fault Lines" is all about the groove.
The trio of Katie Haverly, on guitar, keyboards and vocals, Patrick Morris on bass and Julius Schlosburg on drums meld their distinct musical backgrounds into a powerful and emotional style. "Fault Lines" is a blend of slinky R&B, yearning ballads, down-tempo hip-hop, all driven by mesmerizing grooves that let each musician shine.
"The sound from the first record to this one is so different, but it honors our individual musical contributions more," Haverly says. "With this configuration, we're all equally passionate and committed to making music our lifestyle. I feel we're a family and we're very fortunate to have found each other. It's so pleasing to write together and to make this record as a labor of love."
Haverly and Morris met about two years ago, when they were both playing out in open-mic nights. Copper And Congress began soon after, originally as a four-piece, playing with more of a jazz and folk vibe. The band recorded its debut "The Leap Year" in 2012, with ex-members Corey Cottrell on guitar and Kai Lindstedt on drums, before Julius Schlosburg joined as the new drummer. It wasn't long until the trio found themselves locked in and feeding off one another, at rehearsal as well as during performances.
"We play differently now. We're inspired in the live setting because we continue to evolve," Schlosburg says.
In the past, Haverly would write melodies and vocals to present to Morris and Schlosburg, but now the group has moved to more collaborative songwriting, each coming up with pieces of a song to stitch together, letting creativity happen in the moment.
"I was never an improviser, ever," Haverly says. "Playing with these guys has opened me up to playing that way. We've all gotten comfortable improvising together. We have this collection of songs, but we don't ever play them the same way."
One resulting change is Haverly reaching less for her guitar and more for the keyboard, where she's more comfortable improvising. That's gone hand-in-hand with Copper And Congress developing a more groove-based sound.
"The three of us are getting in a deeper pocket together and working to be really tight," Haverly says. "Patrick and Julius have transformed my musical world. I'm a different musician than I was a year ago."
Now, the band collaborates on arrangements, chord progressions, beats, and even lyrics.
"Even lyrically, if Patrick writes a melody, I'll ask him what he's thinking about," Haverly says.
Whether it's an emotion, a sentiment, a memory, or even a color, Morris finds himself verbalizing more about a song than he thought he could.
"She has all these questions to worm and answer out of me that I couldn't articulate without those pokes and prods," Morris says.
Haverly is hesitant to unlock the secrets to "Fault Line" in print, instead preferring for listeners to come at the material with an open mind. Nonetheless, she says the album is very intentionally constructed and not just a collection of songs.
"On this record, there are a lot of relationships between songs, in the order, in their beginnings and endings," she says. "There's an arc to it that's important creatively to us. It's not just individual songs, there's a real story we're telling. There are some through lines, allusions within songs to each other."
Generally, the album deals with changes in people's lives, how challenges alter long-held truths and then continue to reverberate over time.
"For me, the 'Fault Line' title is about how a seismic event in your life can move and shift everything. You have to adapt and change and you learn so much through that shift," she says. "There are echoes on the record about how you do keep revisiting similar lessons in life, but every time you're wiser and more experienced."
The song "Déjà vu" illustrates this, leaving its own small echoes across other tracks, both musically and lyrically. Tucson MC Rey Murphy contributes rhymes that push the song in unexpected ways, further highlighting the daring versatility behind Copper And Congress.
Opening track "Decoy" is the song Copper And Congress has chosen for the album's introductory music video, a hypnotic slow-motion clip, mysterious and dream-like.
Copper And Congress started recording "Fault Line" in January, working in three-day bursts over several months with Chris Schultz and Craig Schumacher at WaveLab Studio to lock down the songs rather than rushing through the process.
"In the past, maybe because of money or time, I've settled. We took our time and we're really happy with everything. It captures this moment in time of who we are and it's a good representation of what we can do live," Haverly says.
"My approach and passion with music is very emotional. My interest is always in the story, the tone, the mood and how it makes the audience feel. We are really passionate about the performance and putting on shows that people will remember. We're giving a part of ourselves to the audience, so it's important we connect with people when we're playing."