If one of the vocalists in new pop/rock/Americana trio Blue Sky Riders sounds, well, not-so-new to you--don't worry, you're not out of your mind. The founding member of the band happens to be Kenny Loggins, who's responsible for some of the biggest hits of the past few decades. Suffice to say: You have heard him before.
It's this very familiarity that sets the stage for Blue Sky Riders' aural magic, however. Loggins, accompanied by veteran Nashville songwriters/performers (and, incidentally, happily married couple) Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr, grabs listener's attention immediately with his recognizable tenor, allowing the others to vocally soar energetically over and under and around--creating a whole new blend. It's easy to hear on their debut album, Finally Home, that this is a collaboration that puts a premium on truly enjoying its work.
Loggins met Burr--who's written a massive catalog of hits for country stars ranging from Juice Newton to Faith Hill--while working on his own solo album in Nashville. The pair met up to do some songwriting, and, as Loggins explains, "Gary and I first started singing together to make the demos for the songs we were writing. I noticed that our vocals were really close in the sound. We had a sibling quality that was rare. And I wanted to pursue that."
"Kenny said we sound like family--I think he was thinking like Everleys and I was thinking more like Manson," Burr jokes. However, kidding aside he was equally entranced by the vocal match. When, a couple months later, Loggins suggested they add a female singer to the mix, Burr offered up Middleman--who happened to be sitting right next to him when Loggins called.
"It was very convenient," Middleman smiles. She sent off some of her songs for Loggins to review, and was delighted when he reported back favorably. "He said, "she's a heartful singer.' And that meant so much to me," she says.
The three then got together to settle down to serious work. Middleman admits she was nervous at first, due to really wanting to impress both of her potential bandmates. But as soon as they entered the room together, "the nerves went away, right away," she notes. "There's something about being in the writing room where all eyes are on the song and it's not about our egos--it was easy and it was fun. We wrote a really cool song, and our voices started naturally started falling into place as we were writing."
"I could hear from the blend that it was gonna be a natural thing," Loggins relates.
A group composed of three very strong songwriters sounds as if it might be a recipe for a lot of arguing in the studio. However, Buss says that they haven't had a problem. "We were able to just go down the middle and when one of us would get too dominant, the other two could easily say, 'We could do that...but it's gonna make it where everybody’s gonna know it's you. That’s not what we're trying to do.' It was kinda a fun exercise to keep it in the middle of the river and not drift too close to the cliffs of insanity."
"I think the key is that we trust each other," Loggins adds. "If somebody feels very strong about something, you don’t argue about it. There’s some good reason why they do. And we’re gonna try and find some other reason to get to that, whatever the goal is."
At any rate, Loggins and his bandmates are committed to see where Blue Sky Riders can go--while having a great time getting there. There's a sense of belonging to this project that all three musicians note feels just right.
"It struck me as we were naming the album that Finally Home for me felt like an aesthetic of the mind," Loggins explains. "That something about being in a band again, and being in a collaboration, and having a sense of a brother and a sister--it felt like family to me. And it has that quality of landing in a homebase."