THERE'S SOMETHING special about Lyn Avenue. The husband-wife duo of CC Witt and Patrick Ellington have a unique musical bond, which undoubtedly comes from the chemistry they share. You can hear that chemistry in what they do, and perhaps no more strongly than their latest EP, Sophisticated.
Produced and mixed by Peter Mavrogeorgis primarily at Low Watt Recording on Broughton Street, the album was also recorded in part at Mavrogeorgis’ new Dollhouse Studios in Atlanta. The set features a who’s who of great local musicians including Jared Hall on keyboards, Igor Fiksman on pedal steel, Larry Jones on bass, Jack Miller on drums, and Kenny Munshaw on bass. It’s country, Americana, pop, rock, and everything in between.
We caught up with the duo to learn more about the new project.
When did the process start of really compiling the songs and figuring out where to take them?
CC: We released our last EP in 2018 titled “Never Been to Nashville” and we learned a lot from that process. The last two years have been amazing for us - hitting 50,000 views on our music video for “Kentucky Bourbon” and debuting at CMA fest in Nashville last year, all in addition to a great Southern U.S. tour schedule. Since that release, we got married, got “the band van”, and played somewhere around 300+ shows (collectively).
During that time we ended up gradually writing songs that we felt were a good follow up to the previous EP and would help us keep the momentum going. We loved the sounds we got at Dollhouse with Peter Mavrogeorgis from the last record. We loved his vision and advice and how he always managed to push the best out of all of us creatively in the studio. So when it came time to record this thing, we knew he had to be a part of it. The only problem was, he had closed his studio and moved to Atlanta.
So in the middle of last year, Pat and I started looking for a new space to track the EP and found Low Watt Recording in Savannah. Ironically, Ted Comerford from Low Watt reached out to us the following week about doing a “Live at Low Watt” sponsored by Connect Savannah. So we actually got a chance to come in the studio and work with Ted and track a couple songs for that, which you can check out our acoustic video from “Live at Low Watt” for Hurricane Bride on Low Watt’s Facebook Page.
Do you feel you had a goal in mind with this EP?
Pat: We’ve definitely matured musically and lyrically for this EP hence the title, Sophisticated. We feel like we have finally found “our voice” and that opened us up to not trying to fit neatly inside of a genre or subgenre but to experiment with different sounds and instrumentation. One of our songs, I’ll Be Your Umbrella, even features CC playing a mean Kazoo solo.
From a production standpoint, our song “Silver Lining,” although it really only has two chords, has a complex layering of guitars, keys, and organ, and really has a washy feel to it. It was pretty challenging and pushed us in a very unexpected direction. And for that reason, I think secretly both CC and I hold it as our favorite song on the new EP.
Looking back, were these songs happening pretty organically or did you chip away at them until they felt ready?
CC: These songs definitely happened very organically. What I will say is, especially on the last record, Pat and I wrote a lot of those songs together and worked on them together. This EP however, was actually more of a...collectively independent thing. He wrote “Sophisticated” and “I’ll Be Your Umbrella” pretty much all by himself. I wrote “Silver Lining,” “Hurricane Bride,” and Burn Out.” “Burn Out” took me the longest to write because I think it was the song closest to my heart and what I was going through at the time. I rewrote it three times until I went back to the original melody and decided that was its most true form. But as far as musically, we both work on each song together to make sure they are the best we can make them.
Pat: Most of my song ideas came to me while I was not thinking about writing at all. Usually, I get brief flashes of inspiration while I’m doing routine activities. I’ll be standing in the shower and all of a sudden a verse or a hook will hit me. I can normally write a couple verses and maybe a chorus before I go to CC for her perspective.
How do you feel like you know when a song is done?
Pat: I think finishing a song is initially a very fulfilling and accomplished feeling. But sometimes you have to sleep on the song for a while before you can see it objectively. Oftentimes we will demo new songs at our house with nearly full production. We’ve definitely gotten all the way through the “demo stage” of a song and decided that a song wasn’t that great. Honestly, sometimes bailing on a song is also a satisfying feeling because it frees you up to start working on something new.
Lyrically, I’m curious to know what interests y’all. What sort of subject matter grabs you the most when you’re writing.
CC: I usually draw inspiration from the people in my life around me, sometimes it’s the things they say that maybe I write down and save for later, or emotionally what I might be going through. It really all is subject to whatever inspires me. I usually never write a song just to write it. It’s gotta strike me and challenge me and it’s going to be a little part of my/our story. Pat tends to write from less of an emotional standpoint but more from a humorous or quirky perspective. I’m always so blown away by the clever lyrics he comes up with and how fast he can put together a song idea.
Is there a song that encompasses where you’re at as a band?
CC: The song that I think encompasses us right now is “Sophisticated,” because it captures all the things that we want our fans to see in us - a sense of humor, honest lyrics, and our love of traditional country. But I think that when you hear a song like “I’ll Be Your Umbrella,” where Pat is singing more, it shows a small glimpse into our future.
We’re in a time where even album releases are being delayed. What was the thinking behind continuing with the release despite having to postpone tour dates?
CC: All the cancellations in our area happened right after we had set up the distribution of the EP to all the major platforms. We were getting texts and emails of losing shows every day. It was hard waking up to messages from venues and events cancelling or rescheduling. But at that point, we knew how much WE needed music, we knew and hoped these songs would resonate with everyone - especially in a time like this.
“Hurricane Bride” was written about our wedding getting postponed by a Hurricane. In this situation, the “hurricane” was COVID-19. So we made the best out of our situation and came up with a regular live stream show that went every Friday throughout April. We named it “Six String Sippin” and had an official livestream party with our fans. We even wrote a theme song for it, which may end up on the next album. Fri., May 1, will be our last one for the foreseeable future.
To expand on that—in your minds, what does music mean to you right now?
CC: You really don’t know what you have until you don’t have it anymore. It’s really been a humbling experience. It definitely emotionally took a toll on us because we are artists that feel that constant need to express ourselves and share that with people. So that being said, we cannot wait to get back to playing and when we do, we’ll be definitely making up for lost time with our fans!