Rich Howells

SONG PREMIERE: Wilkes-Barre folk rockers Charming Beards mourn ‘Jakob’ and celebrate new EP

SONG PREMIERE: Wilkes-Barre folk rockers Charming Beards mourn ‘Jakob’ and celebrate new EP
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As we look back at 2017 and remember those we’ve lost, The Charming Beards have the perfect mournful, but beautiful song to memorialize those who have passed on.

Before the Wilkes-Barre folk rock band plays their EP release party at The Keys in downtown Scranton and makes a special radio appearance this Friday, Jan. 5, they’re premiering the song “Jakob” from that new album, “Out of the Valley,” exclusively on NEPA Scene.

Describing their sound with their own term, “outerfolk,” the singer/songwriter tunes of vocalist and guitarist Katie Kelly weave in and out of the folk genre as she and bassist/vocalist Lisa Dietterich and guitarist/vocalist Jordan Hine blend blues, pop rock, and alternative instrumentation to create something that doesn’t fit easily into set labels, and the music is better for it.

“It’s been particularly difficult to nail down a genre to label the band; the overall sound has definitely not been static. The band formed after the release of my solo album, but all the songs have taken shape because of the variety of backgrounds the members come from,” Kelly told NEPA Scene.

“It’s a highly collaborative effort. Lisa and Jordan have truly brought the songs to life. Lisa comes from a diverse background, from metalcore to progressive rock, and Jordan is a beast at blues guitar. Both have such a great intuition as to where to take the songs.”

“Jakob” isn’t named after anyone Kelly knew personally, instead representing anyone who has died and is missed by loved ones left behind.

“‘Jakob’ is a very mournful song that acts as the narrator’s catharsis over the death of a loved one,” she explained.

“The narrator is left in the aftermath of a tragic death, painfully ruminating over the fact that she stands alone, here, questioning whether there was more she could have done to save her loved one. Naturally, the question remains unanswered, and the song ends with her left simply hollow.”

The band started work on the EP in April at JL Studios in Olyphant, working with Joe Loftus, Jay Preston, and drummer Dante Ceccarelli to slowly sculpt its four tracks throughout the year. They have nine songs partially completed for a full-length release but, for now, they wanted to make something that captured their live sound.

Forming The Charming Beards in 2012 and changing members over the years, Kelly has released four EPs and one full-length album during her career, becoming a staple in the Northeastern Pennsylvania music scene while collaborating with various local artists, including Mark Wohl of Mind Choir, recording an as-yet-unreleased synth-heavy EP with him.

“I’m looking forward to the new year and sharing new music. As with any new material, I can’t wait to hear what Jordan and Lisa will do with it,” she said.

“In September, we released our first single, ‘Out of the Valley,’ and named this EP after that song. It’s very divergent from the rest of the tracks but carries a message we’d truly like to emphasize. The opioid epidemic in our Valley has affected each of us personally and unfortunately affected many others. We wanted to let people know to reach out and help or reach out for help.

“The title track is dedicated to Marla Hunter, one of the most beautiful people I ever had the pleasure of knowing.”

NEPA Scene and 1120 Studios photographer Keith Perks designed the cover art for the album, which will be released on Jan. 5 on iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp, with a limited number of physical copies available at shows and on Bandcamp. The Charming Beards will celebrate that night with a free live performance at the Alt 92.1 Radio Theater (149 Penn Ave., Scranton) from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. during the First Friday art walk, followed by an EP release show at The Keys (244 Penn Ave., Scranton) just up the street with Zayre Mountain and E57. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the cover is $3.

“We absolutely love The Keys and are so happy to celebrate there,” Kelly enthused. “We are very grateful for everyone we had the opportunity to work with [on this EP].”

“Jakob,” she said, embodies the vibe of “Out of the Valley” and showcases how well the current lineup works together, which will be on full display this Friday.

“The chemistry between Jordan, Lisa, and I is very present on this track,” Kelly noted.

“Dante Ceccarelli’s drum tracks are very expressive and massive. Lisa’s melodic bass lines and Jordan’s raw, emotive guitar are key elements on the EP.”

Stream the title track and purchase it below:

Photo by Keith Perks/1120 Studios