By Nicholas Jason Lopez
It takes two to make a thing go right.
Comprised of award-winning vocalist Stephanie Adlington and guitarist Aaron Lessard, Nashville, Tenn.-based duo A Tale Of Two are here to serve a different kind of Americana, one emphasized by tight storytelling, as evidenced by the singles “Ain’t Nothin’ But A Fool,” “Chicago Lightning” and “Blood Or Wine,” off the six-track self-titled EP they dropped last month.
A product of their presence around local jazz venues in Nashville, the EP was fully recorded live to capture that authentic raw feel and explores subjects like love, loyalty, heartbreak and the struggle of the human condition, a motivation driven by their admiration of artists like Patty Griffin, Tom Waits and Ray LaMontagne.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to chat with them about their EP and more.
Music Bugle – How did you guys decide on the name “A Tale Of Two”?
Aaron Lessard – Coming up with a name is so challenging, because it is hard to change once you are established – unless you are Andy Dwyer from “Parks And Recreation.” We were floating around the idea of “Prohibition Tale,” but didn’t want to be stuck in a time period. It was then decided that it would be some type of couple element, before Stephanie uttered, “A Tale Of Two?” one day on West End – Nashville. It was good enough for me!
Music Bugle – How would you describe Nashville to someone who has never been there before?
Stephanie Adlington – Nashville is so unique, because everyone in your morning coffee shop works in the music industry. There are so many people that are playing the game, whether it be songwriters, performers, producers, etc.. I guess I would tell an unfamiliar person that there is more to Nashville than just Broadway. Each section of town has its own character and there are so many different music genres existing here. Believe it or not, we make our in-town living playing jazz at local clubs.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Aaron Lessard – We love to perform live and we love the fact that our music showcases live performance and storytelling. It is about personally engaging with listeners and sharing stories in our own way. Though we say we are Americana/folk, we also want to throw in a hint of French love songs, or a delta blues slide guitar. We want to be relatable and memorable for people.
Music Bugle – What is the biggest challenge of being a musical duo?
Stephanie Adlington – The biggest challenge, especially being an independent duo, is competing within the space you reside. Raising money to promote your music and finding the right team to put yourself around is one of the most difficult things an independent artist can do, no matter how good you are. I think the goal is to take small victories and turn them into monstrous achievements to keep you going. Everyone quits, so don’t be like everyone else… we don’t like being everyone else, anyways!
Music Bugle – What has been your proudest accomplishment, so far?
Stephanie Adlington – Well, we recently found out that “A Tale Of Two” is hosting a Sunday Spotlight showcase at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville on 10/24. It is an amazing opportunity and honor to perform in a room with so much history and to show our music to a room of devoted listeners. Playing the Bluebird Cafe is one of those checkmarks off the bucket list, so it is a very exciting time for us.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your self-titled EP?
Aaron Lessard – The entire project from start to finish has been a challenge we never anticipated, which has made it all the more rewarding. COVID created so many delays, from production meetings to tracking and mixing/mastering. The record felt like ancient history by the time we were announcing it to the public. Looking back, we were fortunate to wait, because “Blood Or Wine” would have never made the final six songs, or perhaps we could have made a critical mistake during promotion. I think it is really important to find the positives during such a tough time.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write?
Aaron Lessard – I would say that “Stay With Me,” which is the last track off the EP, was our hardest song to write, because it was the first song we ever wrote together. Stephanie and I come from such contrasting backgrounds, so to find a middle ground was difficult, especially when you are starting from scratch. I struggled greatly with finding my input early on and so it felt like a marathon to get through that first song. That being said, it was an important step to take, because I felt more submerged in who we have become once we got through that first hurdle.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Stephanie Adlington – The pandemic has contributed to many hurdles for not only the record, but our daily lives. We were thankful to work safely in Nashville over the last year, but it has created an everlasting uncertainty for tomorrow. I suppose one positive to take away from the pandemic is the amount of time we were given to focus more on ourselves and who we want to be as artists.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Stephanie Adlington – When we are totally burned out, we like to enjoy the other hobbies in our lives, like cooking and watching films. There are so many great farmers markets in Tennessee. Sometimes, we like to venture off for a day. Nashville is also home to the Belcourt Theatre, which is an awesome venue for arthouse films and documentaries. It’s very relaxing to enjoy other forms of art without the daily pressure.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Aaron Lessard – We listen to just about anything you can think of. Punch Brothers, John Paul White… Lee Ann Womancks’ “The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone” has been a daily spin. Sting is always inspiring to revisit. Whatever grabs a particular emotion at the right time. We love good songwriting that sticks out from the norm.