The story starts out like it should have taken place in New York two generations ago or perhaps on a movie set in Hollywood today: The girl was working in a windowless bar hidden away in the back of another business when the stranger walked in with a guitar, began playing and singing, and suddenly she was aware of nothing but his voice. Captivated, she introduced herself and the two soon ventured out into the world to make musical history.
Change a few details and the reality of Letters to Abigail is not far removed from this tale.
Seven years ago, Kelli Redmond was working at The Back Room, a small music venue tucked away in the back of the Flat Rock Wine Shoppe. It was open mic night and James Harrell was there to partake in the evening’s festivities, unbeknownst to the fact that this evening was about to change everything about his musical path. “I thought he sounded fantastic” Redmond says, recalling her first impression of Harrell. “I was already doing this music thing in my living room where a bunch of us would play together so I invited him to join us.”
The rest, as the cliché goes, is history. As soon as they first played together they noticed how well their voices complemented each other “like it was meant to be” she says with a tone that still sounds as excited as she must have been when this all first happened.
From this chance encounter Letters To Abigail was born. The duo is a modern day string band with a distinctly old time feel and it is easy to see what drew the two musicians together. When Redmond and Harrell sing together in harmony it really does feel like the two were designed with the express purpose of being band mates. Whether it is a heartfelt love song like “Angel in Ordinary Shoes” or an upbeat and catchy break-up song like “Leave the Leavin’” the duo sounds like masters of their genre, both musically and lyrically.
In reality, Letters To Abigail is still in the early stages of what promises to be a long and successful musical journey. They recorded their first album “Say Anything” in 2013 which made WNCW’s list of Top 100 Releases of the year. Redmond admits, though, that the album was heavily influenced by what each of them had been doing before they teamed up. It was a coming together of “what he wrote and what I wrote” that they had polished and presented as a duo, as opposed to a completely joint effort by the band.
All of that changed when they recorded their soon-to-be released self-titled follow up album. Redmond promises a more eclectic album that represents the duo’s work writing their music as a team. “It’s a little bit of a mosh pit” in terms of style she promises with a laugh. As an example she specifically mentions the inclusion of a murder ballad, a blues tune, heartfelt love songs, uplifting tracks, and even a “slow, rainy day kind of tune” coming in the form of “Take Me Away,” originally made popular by Hayes Carll. The result is an album truly representative of Letters To Abigail’s talent and, specifically, their live performances, of which they perform well over 100 times a year.
(Written by Brett Barest)