Bellingham, Wash. folk duo Raveis Kole have charted on Billboard, participated in Folk Alliance and AmericanaFest, shared bills with Justin Townes Earle, The Wailers, Cory Henry, and more, and today they release their new LP In the Moment (out Apr. 28), an album about being present, not taking life for granted, and making loving connections with yourself, others and our planet.
Laurie Raveis and Dennis Kole met by jamming together at a music festival in Montana a decade ago. So it made perfect sense that the pair, now married and comprising the singing-songwriting duo Raveis Kole, should get back to the simplicity of playing and singing together on their loving and enchanting new album In the Moment.
Playing everything on the album themselves, the duo worked with producer Matt Smith in Austin to add texture through instrumental experimentation—embellishing their songs with banjo, ukulele, lap steel, harp guitar, cavaquinho, tambourine, shakers and foot drums. They whistle and mimic horns with their voices to up the colorful ante.
“It’s exciting for the two of us to create this full sound,” Raveis explains. “It’s a challenge to be able to do all these things, to bring in different colors, textures and harmonies to create the right vibe for the lyrics and still be locked in."
Penning pandemic-inspired tunes started to lose its luster for Raveis Kole. “The times are what they are,” says Kole, “but we didn’t want to focus on feelings of loss and isolation; and we wanted to go back to celebrating other people, instead of looking at them as potential disease vectors,” Kole jokes. “Let’s celebrate the importance of other people in our lives, that feeling of being connected to something bigger than yourself.”
The pair decided to create the rhythmic pulse with their acoustic guitars instead of with traditional bass and drums. “The thought was let’s make it more vulnerable, more intimate, less about big production,” Kole says. “Let’s make it about us two. What would it sound like if you came to see us at a concert or event? Sort of the stripped-down version of things. This album, as a whole, is our most authentic, unfiltered, intimate work to date. We are out there exposed. We aren’t relying on session musicians to come out there and give us protection.”
Raveis Kole also kept things lively on In the Moment, their second full-length LP, by changing up styles and moods from song to song. There’s a light-hearted feel to songs like “Sticky and Sweet,” which harkens back to acts like The Roches with its whimsical lyrics juxtaposed against earnest music, and “Kismet,” which might be the funniest duet to celebrate marriage since John Prine & Iris DeMent’s “In Spite Of Ourselves."
”Raveis Kole can turn on a dime from cute jokes to moments of breathtaking beauty. “So Nice,” with its soaring melody and gorgeous harmonies, was inspired by a performance the duo did shortly after the pandemic shutdown ended and the gratitude they received from that crowd.
"I couldn’t help but reflect on the simplicities of life unfolding,” Raveis says, “that sense of expanded joy because people hadn’t been able to participate fully in life and were almost glowing with excitement to be out, to be together, enjoying live music."
Their scenic hometown of Bellingham, Washington seeped into the songs as well. “Everything here is on a grander level and it’s quite stunning,” Raveis says. “The connection with nature helps ground you and helps you appreciate the present moment, which does flow through many of our songs. That theme of loving connection, of being present and willing to pause and think openly by paying attention, opens up a potpourri of inspirations and seeds the feelings of being a part of something greater than yourself, something shared and universal."
If you listen to Raveis Kole long enough, you might start to feel your own kinship with both nature and other human beings intensified, which is the goal. “While it’s fun to see your name on a Billboard chart, at the end of the day, it’s there and it’s gone and just a nice memory,” Kole says. “What really satisfies me, and the whole reason I got into music in the first place, is that it helps me feel connected to other people. I love music. Music satisfies my desire to be creative and stimulated and challenged, and also gives me the chance to meet other people. Evidence of that was I met Laurie and we connected.”
When the key-changing, boisterous sing-along “Wherever You Go” fades out at the end of In the Moment, don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve heard something truly unique that stands out in a musical landscape full of derivatives. Kole sums it up best: “We try to be the best version of ourselves and not the second-best version of somebody else.”