What better way to begin a new year than with a heart-warming tale of serendipity and a song that pulls you quietly in and comforts you like a soft fluffy blanket.
Taken from Chris Williams and Kid Reverie’s magnificent new album, Something from Nothing, ‘Carolina’ is so gently life affirming and transcendental it feels like it’s being poured down into the very depths of your soul. It spirals around, dipping and soaring; a ghostly understated bluegrass spiritual.
Like the rest of the album, the song grew in part out of North Carolina native Williams’ quest to find a particular banjo and, in part, because the pandemic gave him time to start thinking about writing a new album. One day he watched a video of Gregory Alan Isakov and saw Steve Varney (Kid Reverie) playing an Open Back Banjo.
“That banjo sounded so amazing on one condenser mic, and I wanted to find one like it,” explains Williams. After a long search, he landed on Steve Varney’s website. Williams noticed that Varney offered lessons, so he decided to sign up for one or two. “I was so taken with his work and his instrument that I’d pay to talk to him,” Williams chuckles.
The two hit it off immediately, and it wasn’t long before they started writing a song together. That song was the mesmerizing lullaby, ‘Mercury’, which ended up closing the album. Soon, Varney and Williams were meeting once a week over Zoom for writing sessions and recording. “This was the most serendipitous musical moment in my life,” says Williams.
The two eventually co-wrote the 12 songs on Something from Nothing, Williams third album, following on from The Farewell Tour and To Be Determined in 2019 and 2020.
“This process was very cathartic,” reflects Varney. “It took a trying time for both of us and allowed us to open ourselves to a writing partnership that neither of us expected. I am grateful for this amazing musical experience and hope everyone enjoys these songs as much as we loved creating them!”
“This was our second song,” Williams explains about ‘Carolina’. “I was stretching myself to find fresh ideas and more meaningful ways of expressing them. What better subject for me to work with than the state I was born and raised in. I love everything about North Carolina. It checks all the boxes with beauty and historical intrigue. From the Blue Ridge mountains and foothills to the Outer Banks, it’s just stunning.”
“As I reached for lyrics and storyline, I found myself referring to this space in a maternal vernacular. There is a comfort in where you were born, where you’ve explored, all the emotions tied to so many stories rooted in that place.
In retrospect, I could see so many metaphors and similes relating to how healing and familiar my surroundings were while navigating life in this area. The story starts on the beach in Wilmington. It stretches out to the Smokies and ends on the Outer Banks in Ocracoke’s Silver Creek Harbor…where the sun can be observed setting over its silver waters through the mouth of the harbor. Surely one of my favorite memories.”
‘Carolina’ by Chris Williams and Kid Reverie is premiering exclusively on Holler below.
“I’m always down for a love song about a place,” adds Varney. “Even at its loudest, this one always felt so gentle to me. I loved sitting down with my banjo late at night and playing solos until one clicked.”
“Chris always came to our lessons with a solid idea. I routinely found myself saying something like, ‘This is great, now let’s make it a song.’ I’ve rarely had such deep collaboration with another songwriter. For so long it felt like we were just doing lessons. I think it took both of us quite a while to realize we were co-writing songs and making an album.”
The album Something From Nothing will be released on March 3rd on Gray Sun Records.