You'll be courted by the harmonies and then captivated by the stories. That's the spell that Team Love cast over the listener with their self-titled, debut full-length album. Weaving the key ingredients of folk and alt-country through the interplay of their voices and instruments, the core quartet of the band have found a sweet-spot where performance and songwriting hold equal weight.
Recorded over three days in 2019, the album is notable for the addition of songwriter Ruby McGrath-Lester's younger brothers Paddy and Eammon on bass and drums, giving the group an even wider instrumental palette to draw from. You can hear that growth and expansion on the album track 'Bookmark' and the singles 'Wasted Time' and 'Running', both of which have received extensive radio airplay on ABC Country and community stations around Australia.
Elsewhere it's those dazzling harmonies that tug at heartstrings and soar toward the heavens. On 'Wondering' they're interwoven with a tender and warm emotiveness. On the playful-sounding 'Silly Ol' Body', which addresses the issue of chronic pain, there's a chanting, nursery rhyme quality, while on closer 'Going Down (To The River)' they trade lines like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, with the rest of the band transforming into a gospel blues quartet.
Their latest single, 'Education', finds Team Love taking their harmonies and vocal interplay to a place of heartache and reflection. Over gently strummed guitar and lightly melodic piano, Ruby McGrath-Lester sings, with a keening and pleading quality, about the question of learning from one's mistakes and actions.
McGrath-Lester and Shaun Stolk are the key songwriters of the band, casting the first creative stones before the rest of Team Love lend their voices and playing to the songs, giving them further shape and colour. "Our process is to all play off one another and try to complement the sounds of each other," explains violinist Ruby Cattell. "Often our instrumentals will involve elements of improvisation so that each performance varies just a little bit."
Thematically, Team Love have the ability to shine a light on a range of topics, with unflinching honesty, finding those universal points of connectivity with the listener. "We often get feedback that the songs are relatable and accessible," says Ruby McGrath-Lester. "I feel like it shows a general theme across the songs, which is that they are about real-life things and experiences that people can put themselves in."
Ruby Cattell agrees, adding "the album is full of very personal themes, including lost loves, prolonged relationships, chronic illness, mental health, societal expectations and friendships. It wasn't something that was planned, rather the songwriting came from a place of personal interest and resonates strongly with all members of the band."