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“This is a recording of skilled musicians and friends enjoying what they do. In so many ways it is like a debut album, but by grown-ups, and it sounds like they had such fun bringing it to life together.” – Americana UK
“The debut album, Hard Worker, sometimes reminds us of the long-awaited Jason Molina’s way of making songs. Although with a greater optimism in the lyrics, Payton’s voice is close to the emotional tone of the late singer.” – Dirty Rock Magazine
“Hard Worker’s 10 songs traverse a wide musical terrain, blending country, funk, rock and psychedelic influences with traces of Wilco, The Grateful Dead, John Prine, Dave Alvin and other roots-music staples – all woven together to a blue collar backdrop for Payton’s warm baritone vocals and deeply personal lyrics.” – Jim Catalano WXXI
Formed in Ithaca, NY in early 2020, Freight is a new songwriting collaboration between JP Payton (JP and the Easytigers) and Liam Lawson (The Auroras). Groove-centric and playfully syncopated, the band’s primary sound is a danceable variety of folk-rock, replete with electric organ fuzz, telecaster twang, and no-nonsense steel-string chug. Payton’s confessional songwriting draws from the country music tradition; his lyrics explore the interior dynamics of close relationships, the connections between people and the places they live, and the pains of growing up and old. As the name suggests, Freight is a balance between momentum and substance, funk and storytelling, with its spiritual home waiting somewhere just a little farther down the highway.
In October 2020, as upstate New York dug in to weather another coronavirus winter, Payton and Lawson set about recording their first EP at Sunwood Recording in Trumansburg, NY. Realizing that social distancing would be an unavoidable factor in the recording process, the duo decided to embrace the production-forward sound of bands like Beck, Jay Bennet-era Wilco, and James McMurtry. The outcome was a funky sort of country rock, in which the different guitar and vocal components fit together like puzzle pieces, complementing and expanding upon a basic Waylon-style drum and bass foundation. As recording continued, it became clear that the sound needed a thicker harmonic “soup” to really bring out the psychedelic elements of Payton’s lyrical imagery. Lawson invited keyboard player Colleen Countryman to sit in on the recording sessions, having worked with her previously in the Auroras. Her blended stage-piano/organ sound quickly became integral to the band; they began rehearsing as a trio in early 2021.