British/American duo ‘A Different Thread’ deliver an intoxicating amalgamation of Beatlesque Folk Rock meets Gillian Welch Dark Country.
It’s not every day you meet someone in the street and decide to tour the world with them but A Different Thread has done just that. Robert Jackson from Staffordshire, England and Alicia Best from North Carolina, USA first sang together while busking in Galway, Ireland. They didn’t know each other’s names all they knew was that their voices fit together like missing pieces of the same puzzle. Their chance meeting sparked a musical journey across the UK, Europe, US and even down to Guatemala and back; living on the road and cultivating their own blend of country, folk and blues, or as they call it: British-Americana.
After winning first prize in a competition at Shrewsbury Folk Festival in 2017, the band made a UK splash this year performing on one of the festival’s main stages. On their recent US tour, they were featured on NPR’s: The State of Things with Frank Stasio (WUNC) and the Blue Plate Special (WDVX) in Knoxville TN. They are about to self-release their debut album 'On A Whim', produced by North Carolina Native: Jeff Crawford (Mandolin Orange, Mipso, Josh Moore, Skylar Gudasz). The record features session players from the North Carolina 'Triangle' area including Omar Ruiz-Lopez (Violet Bell) and Rusty Smith (Four Tops, The Temptations).
As well as drawing influence from the likes of The Wood Brothers, The Cranberries, Willy Mason, Bert Jansch, Doc Watson, Neil Young and the Beatles, their original songs are inspired by the music that has crossed and criss-crossed the Atlantic Ocean over the generations in true folk fashion, from the rolling Staffordshire hills to the Appalachian Mountains. Travelling is also a common theme in their songs, telling tales of adventure, bitter sweet romance and synchronicity, delivered with Jackson’s “Strong and soulful voice” (FATEA magazine) and “Thought provoking, well-crafted lyrics” (Gordon Giltrap). Jackson started writing the album’s title track in New York City and finished it upon returning home “What is it I’m doing here?”, he asks, “It must be time to face my fears”. The song deals with taking a risk, leaving comforts behind and longing for change. In ‘Carolina Song’, Best writes: “Change can’t come too soon”. When talking about her own home town of Durham, NC and the fight against racism, inequality, and gentrification. Alicia’s “Beautifully evocative harmonies” (American roots UK) harken back to ages past which is no surprise, having been taught her first murder ballad at the age of 15 by none other than Rhiannon Giddens. She also gained a local appreciation during the success of her previous band ‘Bevel Summers’, garnering comparisons to artists such as Alison Krauss and Dolores O'Riordan. When performing live, she keeps the pace moving with her driving suitcase drum kit, which is well matched by Jackson’s stirring acoustic guitar, while the fiddle and harmonica combo lifts up their music with an impulsive edge.
This Autumn they leapt back over the pond for their official release tour of the east coast, including another sell out show at the Isis Music Hall in Asheville. This winter they return to Guatemala to continue working on material for their next release.