Wintervals band members Lisa Tyler and Trevor Walker enjoy a musical chemistry that seems to suggest that their collaboration was always a fait accompli. Tyler tells that the two met while working at a Hendersonvile, N.C. coffee shop, and bonded over their shared love of Jason Isbell and Neil Young. As both of them were aspiring musicians, they judged it worthwhile to collaborate on a handful of songs Walker had been working on as part of a planned solo effort.
“He had some songs he had written with no lyrics or melodies,” Tyler says. “I wrote some lyrics, and within the first three songs, it was clear that this was a magical fit.”
That was 2015. Six months later, the duo recorded their full-length debut, “Can’t Win for Losing,” to be followed by the 2017 effort “Wilderness” — a pair of indie/folk/country releases that offer up compelling songs bolstered by tasteful performances, as well as vocal harmonies that are nothing short of levitating. Indeed, the music that has come of the Walker/Tyler partnership in only two short years is every bit as affecting and effortlessly lovely as Tyler’s description would seem to suggest.
It was no sure bet on paper, though. Walker came to the band with an impressively diverse resume, having held down the drummer’s seat in a jam band, the bassist’s slot in a folk-rock unit, guitarist chores in a country-bluegrass outfit. Tyler, on the other hand, had never played outside a scholastic setting, having been a member of the choir in both high school and college.
Nonetheless, the Wintervals sound owes a good deal to Tyler’s nightingale voice, as well as to the fetching combination of the two principals singing in tandem, which they do often on the aforementioned debut. “I’m not a lead singer, and I don’t consider myself a great backing vocalist, either,” Walker says. “She’s great with both, but I come in and do what I can.”
Though both Wintervals records are marked by an abundance of soft, lilting melodies and Tyler’s trademark vox, last year’s “Wilderness” comes off just this shy of a straight-up country record, full of conspicuous mandolin and pedal steel moments in contrast with “Can’t Win for Losing”‘s more indie-rock- and folk-approved flavorings. To some extent, that happened by design — “I do think we wrote more expressly country songs for the second record,” Walker says. But mostly it speaks to the intuitive nature of the duo’s collaboration.
“When we’re working on music, a lot of times it’s just a matter of ‘what does this song need?'” Walker says. “And then it’s like, oh, okay, this is a country song. I’m trying to focus on the song conceptually. What’s going to serve that song? Because the goal is to end up making a good-sounding record, whatever that is.”
Right now, the Wintervals are hard at work on songs for album number three, which Walker says they hope to release by the end of the summer. “We’ve got six or eight songs ready, and we’re shooting for nine or 10,” he says. “From what we’ve done so far, I’d describe it as a solid mix of the first two records. There’s some stuff that wouldn’t be out of place on ‘Can’t Win for Losing,’ and then there’s a little bit of country stuff, too. It’s different, but it’s still the Wintervals; it’s still us.”
The Wintervals will play Preservation Pub Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 8 p.m.