Like a fine Kentucky bourbon, the Louisville band Bridge 19 has come of age with its new album “In the Afterglow.” Mature and bold but sweet and satisfying, Bridge 19 offers it most revealing and meaningful songs to date.
Through lush, polished vocal harmonies, front women Audrey Cecil and Amanda Lucas sing about serious, timely topics while ensuring that their songs remain charming and fun. Using moody electric guitars, horns, accordion, pedal steel and drums, Bridge 19 presents riffs that bend and blend genres. Touches of Americana, lively pop, vintage Nashville, Motown, singer-songwriter, and even disco float from song to song. You’ll want to dance and sing along.
“In the Afterglow” is the third full-length album for a five-person band that has been entertaining live audiences and garnering critical acclaim since 2007, when Lucas and Cecil first began performing together.
Bridge 19 has shared stages with Brandi Carlile, Dr. Dog, Langhorn Slim, Sarah McLachlan, Asleep at the Wheel, Richard Thompson and more. The band has been booked at major music festivals, including MidPoint, RiverRoots, FreeFall, Lilith Fair and the International Folk Festival.
Bridge 19 has also been featured on nationally syndicated NPR and was ranked No. 1 in Thrillist’s “Top Louisville Bands You Need to Hear.” “Riding on a Wire,” the band’s last full-length release, was ranked No. 14 in Louisville AAA station WFPK’s 100 Best Albums of 2015, and Bridge 19 was a finalist for Folk Artist of the Year at the 2015 Louisville Music Awards.
Lucas and Cecil’s vocal harmonies have always been a cornerstone of Bridge 19, and they guide song after song on “In the Afterglow.” Lucas and Cecil’s soulful singing is reminiscent of female Americana duos like the Secret Sisters and the Watson Twins. Bridge 19’s leaders aren’t related by blood, though their effortless melodies might make you think they are.
In fact, Lucas and Cecil have been close friends for most of their lives, and that trust and comfort enables them to push past vulnerabilities and dig deep. Together, they craft songs that explore love, loss, addiction, heartache, anxiety, fear, joy and desire.
“We know what each other is thinking or means at all times,” Lucas said. “It’s challenging to write music with somebody, but I don’t find it challenging to write with Audrey because we know each other so well.”
Long before they were bandmates, Lucas and Cecil were teammates – beginning as 10-year-olds and continuing through high school on a traveling youth softball club.
They lost touch somewhat when they went to different colleges to play ball, but unbeknownst to each other at the time, they took parallel paths in becoming self-taught musicians, learning to play guitar and write songs. They discovered each other’s work on MySpace – music’s go-to digital platform at the time. After Cecil invited Lucas to practice with a band she was in, they hit it off and began performing as a duo.
They became Bridge 19 and have added band members over the years; the current lineup has been in place since 2014. In addition to Cecil on lead guitar and Lucas on rhythm guitar or handheld percussion, Bridge 19 features Joey Thieman (horns, accordion), Meg Samples (drums), Jeff Faith (bass). Over the years, they’ve reached a new height in their art, a reckoning with self and society that can only come with age and experience.
The new album’s first track and first single is #MeToo-inspired “The One,” arguably Bridge 19’s most overt social commentary. Lucas and Cecil wrote it after hearing the courageous courtroom statements of the survivors of serial sexual predator Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor. “The One” contains haunting lyrics while using a pedal steel guitar and catchy drumbeat to combine sounds of Americana, vintage Nashville and pop. The song is presented from the perspective of a perpetrator who is stalking a woman, imagining a sense of entitlement and privilege to excuse such vile behavior.
Other songs include the high-energy soul track “The Truth,” which a danceable Motown throwback; the slow, heartrending “Diamonds;” and the surprising disco tune, “Breakdown,” which is about an overly emotional crush who comes on too strong. Meanwhile, “Get Back in Bed” is a simple, country love ballad about longing to avoid the harshness of the world outside.
“In the Afterglow” was recorded with engineer Anne Gauthier at Louisville’s acclaimed La La Land Studio, where My Morning Jacket, Ray Lamontagne and many other popular acts, including Louisville-based White Reaper and Murder by Death, have recorded.
Bridge 19 is on tour now in support of “In the Afterglow,” and music videos of “The One” and “The Truth” are available on YouTube and at Bridge19.com.
This band is already well-established as a celebrated member of Louisville’s music scene. With its socially conscious new record, Bridge 19 is poised for an even greater breakthrough.