Meet XPN’s August #ArtistToWatch The War and Treaty; listen to their album Healing Tide on NPR Music’s First Listen

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The War and Treaty | Photo courtesy of the artist and label.

XPN’s Artist to Watch for the month of August, The War and Treaty, deliver exactly what their name promises: both struggle and peace, ferocity and benevolence, chaos and tranquility.

Michael Trotter Jr.’s musical identity originated in 2004, as a soldier in Iraq. While his unit was encamped in Saddam Hussein’s palace, he banged out some tunes on a found piano and wrote his first song after the death of his captain. He then began to sing at memorial services for fallen soldiers, intending to comfort and uplift mourners. Meanwhile, Tanya Blount was already climbing to success with a role in Sister Act 2 a solo single on the top 30 Billboard R&B Singles chart. After meeting at a festival, the two developed a romantic and later musical relationship, forming the unstoppable force of The War and Treaty.

The War and Treaty’s upcoming album, Healing Tide, is gospel-charged Americana with a mix of folk, bluegrass and soul. Their influences include hearts of blues and soul like Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, but the power couple is most often compared to Ike and Tina Turner in the blazing passion and strength of their relationship, which translates through their music.

Healing Tide feels exactly like its title: a wave of peace washing over you, like being dunked in the cool water of a baptism pool. Love is at the thematic core of this album, love as a driving force and catalyst, love as a call to action and reason for being. The duo is unapologetically vulnerable in their writing and in onstage performances.

“Jeep Cherokee Laredo” rumbles in with bouncing, churchy keys and a silky harmonica riff. Their intertwining harmonies are bold and uncaged, the lyrics teasingly chastising. Blount reigns in her belting vocals for a gentler, mandolin-backed number, “Here Is Where the Loving Is At,” featuring country singer Emmylou Harris. The standout title track is a joyous, jumping around your bedroom singing into a hairbrush kind of song. “Healing Tide” is fueled by brassy vibrato and inspired by a vision of peace and unity.

Listen to Healing Tide here, via NPR Music’s First Listen. The War and Treaty plays two local concerts in October; one at Bergen Performing Arts Center on October 9th, one at Appell Center for the Performing Arts on October 13th. Tickets and more info can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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