Byland Releases 'Heavy For A While' And Announces Tour


Byland Releases 'Heavy For A While' And Announces Tour

(One In A Million Media) Born of a dream of home but then waylaid by disappointment, frustration, and eventual acceptance, a journey through the past led to Byland's extraordinary new album, Heavy For A While, is out now on vinyl, cassette, CD, and streaming, via Mother West Records.

Fueled by singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Alie Renee Byland's spirited, eclectic musical approach, songs like "Settle My Mind" and "Postcard" are widescreen expressions of longing and isolation, weaving deep-rooted melodies, candid lyrical communication, and sophisticated arrangements with whispers of nostalgia and an unstoppable sense of forward motion. The result is a singular vision both familiar and unprecedented, bittersweet yet strikingly life-affirming.

Alie Renee Byland had what can only be described as an extraordinary childhood, raised in New Mexico among a religious community led by her father. "My dad was a pastor growing up," she says, "like a Jesus hippie. It was an amazing childhood, we grew up for the first ten years of my life in the mountains where my parents were building an Earthship. Then when I was 10, my parents moved us to the inner city of Albuquerque, which was literally called The War Zone. It's actually a very diverse neighborhood, predominantly Spanish-speaking, and our church was right in the middle of all of that. We also had a community of people that lived with us, at any given point, there were 20 or 30 people living together.

"I feel so conflicted about that whole part of my life. It was very beautiful in one sense, I really felt like part of a community, but there was also a lot of trauma that came from that time. I was the oldest girl in the pastor's family, and a worship leader when I was 12, so my own sense of choice was squashed and simplified. I had the answers to any question given to me on a platter, and there was only one thing on the menu for me. I became, in many ways, a performer to avoid disappointing people."

Though Alie gained invaluable experience, her artistic growth was limited by the community's religious boundaries. In 2010, she left New Mexico for school in Seattle, where she met and married Jake Byland, who also became her songwriting partner, making her official recorded debut with 2018's Desert Days. Gray followed in 2020, earning applause for its expansive pop soundscapes and landing them multiple high-profile film and TV placements via their partnership with Los Angeles-based indie label, Mother West. That same year saw the Bylands finally fulfilling Alie's long-standing dream of returning to New Mexico. They packed up the car and left the Pacific Northwest in March 2020 - quite literally days before lockdown restrictions.

"We had been married for six years," Alie says, "and I had been wanting to move back home for basically that whole time. Finally, we did it, and it was so tough in all the ways I wasn't expecting. At times it was so horrible and hard relationally because of the pandemic, grief, politics, just everything... So music was sort of an escape or a respite, a way to process how difficult it was."

Caught in place by COVID, Alie and Jake began documenting their emotions and experience in a string of contemplative new songs, written independently and then refined together, creating a seamless yin/yang between individual introspection and dynamic cooperation, each bringing their own unique voice to the process.

Demos were sent to longtime producer/engineer Nathan Yaccino (Brandi Carlile, Pearl Jam, Tanya Tucker), who encouraged Byland to nurture and shape the songs into a full-fledged album. Having spent almost two years to the day in what essentially amounted to pre-production, they returned to Seattle in 2022 and quickly set to work, joined by Yaccino and an array of friends, among them guitarist Jessica Dobson (Shins, Beck, Deep Sea Diver), pedal steel guitarist and vocalist Skyler Mehal, multi-instrumentalist/percussionist Jonny Gundersen, and Lemolo's Meagan Grandall, the latter of whom lends backing vocals to a number of tracks and shares lead vocal duties on "Postcard." Frequent collaborator Abby Gundersen (William Fitzsimmons) once again contributed assorted strings and arrangements, her evocative motifs bringing rare resonance and additional depth to Byland's intangible magic.

With its shrewd sonic template and Alie's striking vocal performance at its center, Heavy For A While expertly marries themes of intimacy and heartache, nostalgia and hopefulness, the quest for home and the complexity of holding onto it once it is found. At once finely etched and strikingly direct, songs like the celestial "Two Circles" and the kinetic ode to Alie's childhood best friend, "Monstera," are ideal distillations of Byland's approach, balancing multiple shades of emotional nuance with an uncluttered sentimentality that ultimately leads to a greater truth.

From the album-opening title track and haunting late-night rumination of "Lean In" to the elegiac "Postcard" and stark solo piano finish, "End Scene," Heavy For A While expertly captures the emotional maelstrom of Byland's two years in New Mexico, serving as a clear snapshot of their experience as well as a therapeutic primal scream releasing all the deep feelings and frustration felt by them both.

As always a project eager to avoid easy categorization, Byland will next bring Heavy For A While to life on stage, reimagining the album's rich colors and emotional textures through various instrumental permutations, surprising itineraries, and inventive new arrangements.

After a successful solo tour supporting The Bones of JR Jones and an appearance at the Sonic Guild Gala where they were honored with a grant supporting extraordinary new music earlier this year, Byland will embark on a headlining run in May. They will also appear with Noah Gundersen & His Band at The Crocodile on May 9th, and at the Fisherman's Village Music Fest on May 16.

Heavy For A While stands as testament to the Bylands' continuing evolution as musicians and human beings, marking both a personal milestone as well as a universal expression of longing for a sense of community in an increasingly detached world.

"I know now that this record, Heavy For A While, is not just about leaving New Mexico," Alie says. "It's more so my own unfettered journey of finding a sense of home and comfortability with myself, wherever I am."

5/2 - Tacoma, WA - New Frontier Lounge
5/3 - Portland, OR - Alberta Street Pub
5/7 - Reno, NV - Cypress
5/8 - Eugene, OR - Sam Bond's Garage
5/9 - Seattle, WA - The Crocodile
(w/ Noah Gundersen & His Band)
5/11 - Santa Fe, NM - The Mystic
(Alie solo)
5/16 - Everett, WA - Fisherman's Village Music Fest 2024

Related Stories
Byland Releases 'Heavy For A While' And Announces Tour

News > Byland

Share this article: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit email this article