You Me & Apollo’s second full-length release, Sweet Honey, opens on a note of worldliness that might seem precocious coming from a 24-year-old. But band founder and songwriter Brent Cowles’ experience belies his tender age. He started playing in bands when he was 14, got married at 18, divorced at 20, and has filled the intervening years with a non-stop regimen of national touring and recording. So when he sings “I learned my lesson young,” on the characteristically raucous “Open Doors,” it’s safe to say he comes by it honestly.
“Cowles is a scrawny, wiry 23-year-old with frizzy hair and a shy countenance, but behind the mic he sounds like a haggard, middle-aged man with struggle and strife in his rear-view mirror.” -Ricardo Baca, The Denver Post
Since the band’s well-received 2011 debut, Cards With Cheats, the unmistakable stamp of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding-style soul has made You Me & Apollo something of a friendly anomaly among the foot- stomping roots-folk renaissance that launched the careers of their Denver colleagues The Lumineers, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Gregory Alan Isakov. Sweet Honey is an ambitious attempt to reconcile these two strains of influence in the service of a restlessly contemporary sound that would fit alongside Brett Dennen, Neil Young, and Ennio Morricone on any playlist. A rich goulash of instrumental flourishes accompanies the well-traveled vocals: sinister trumpet melodies, jaunty Wurlitzers, and harmonies that suggest choirboys with jugs of moonshine smuggled under their robes.
Sweet Honey, the long-awaited follow-up to a self-titled EP released early in 2013, was produced and engineered by Jeff Powell (Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Big Star, and Sharon Jones) at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN, where Cowles enlisted the help of long-time You Me & Apollo touring bandmates Tyler Kellogg (drums), Jonathan Alonzo (guitar), Morgan Travis (guitar), and Dave Cole (bass). To help cover the recording costs, the band created a homemade community funding campaign that raised over $20,000. To capture the energy and excitement of a well-constructed live show, honed over the course of 200 shows in a calendar year with bands like Dr. Dog, Devotchka, ZZ Ward and Young the Giant, the record was tracked almost entirely live.
Cowles may have learned his lesson young, but it hasn’t impeded his dogged pursuit of new tricks.
Follow the band in 2014 at clubs and festivals across the United States.