From upcoming album Something from Nothing; out March 3rd
“I’m always down for a love song about a place,” says Steve Varney—better known as Kid Reverie—of his new collaboration with lifelong Carolinian, Chris Williams. Released today as a single from their upcoming album together, “Carolina” is just that. “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,” recalls Williams. “Surely one of my favorite memories.”
Holler premiered the track and boasted about it stating, “‘Carolina’ is so gently life affirming and transcendental it feels like it’s being poured down into the very depths of your soul.” Also adding, “It spirals around, dipping and soaring, a ghostly understated bluegrass spiritual that feels like it’s bleeding through the walls from another universe.”
Williams had a fairly complete layout of the song before ever sending it to Varney, having tracked guitars, strings, vocals, and more, inspired by the state which he calls home. “I love everything about North Carolina,” he says. “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.”
Varney immediately recognized the direction in which Williams was heading and the pair sat down and picked the whole arrangement apart. “We slowly worked through each verse, the vocal rhythm, phrasing, choice of words, instruments, leaving nothing untouched,” remembers Williams. “It was shockingly comprehensive and eye opening. I had never dissected a song so thoroughly.” In addition to replacing Williams’ background vocals and adding more layers and percussions tracks, Varney laid down the song’s signature banjo lines. “I loved sitting down with my banjo late at night and playing solos until one clicked,” he recalls. “Even at its loudest, this one always felt so gentle to me,” says Varney. Williams agrees and adds, “The finished product was my most proud musical accomplishment up to that point.”
“Carolina” is one of twelve tracks from Chris Williams and Kid Reverie’s upcoming album, Something from Nothing, which can be pre-ordered or pre-saved ahead of its March 3rd release right here. Fans can listen to “Carolina” now at this link and check out the pair’s previously-released single, “Half a Mile,” right here.
More About Something from Nothing:
Something from Nothing opens with spacious, atmospheric “Morning,” filled with pirouetting strings and keys that evoke melancholic loss and yearning for the promise of a new day. “My mom passed away during COVID,” recalls Williams, “and I was standing outside the hospital where she was a patient when this song began to form in my mind.” He pondered separation and loss—two themes woven through the arc of the album—and how they affected him and others during the pandemic, wondering where hope for the future might lie. “I imagined this perfect golden field, a place both physical and abstract. A retreat for loss and memories, hopes and determination. A space that our own energies could converge and swirl, absent each other,” he says. As Kid Reverie remembers about writing the song: “The title, the space and ease… It led me to produce it like a grand entrance.”
“Morning” segues effortlessly into “The Fog,” a dreamy waltz floating on piano, synths, and ringing guitar lines that echo the notes on the piano. The Beatles-esque soundscape pulls us into the beauties and mysteries of a fog-shrouded landscape. “Half a Mile” ingeniously combines lilting banjo rolls and an upbeat Flying Burrito Brothers country rock tempo with soaring symphonic strains and transcendent vocals, while the spare guitar strums that introduce “Himalayan Hills” undulate and wash into sparkling, crystalline vocals that evoke the spiritual grandeur of the landscape in the song’s title. As Williams observes, “imagine a photo of mountains as far as the eyes can see, covered with flowers in every hue the mind could conjure. A place so majestic one would find it impossible to carry burdens. Mountains so imposing, they demand respect and surrender.”
The gorgeous love song to the universe “Asleep” floats on lush strings, echoing vocals, and melodic piano chords, punctuated by the plaintive strains of banjo fingerpicking on the instrumental bridge, while the heart-catching “Dappled Grey”—“Don’t tell anyone this is my favorite,” Kid Reverie chuckles—ambles through the vagaries of love, flitting between the crooning poetic explorations of Simon and Garfunkel and the spiraling harmonies of the Beatles. As Williams says of the song, “It meanders gently from the start with swells and valleys, conveying a sense of uncertainty while matching the story line for line. That is the amazing thing about music; the emotion that it can evoke from a listener who had no plans on being dragged in.”
The album closes with the lullaby “Mercury,” the first song that Varney and Williams wrote together. “It is a very simple delving into the depths of love and imagination,” William says. “This was our first song,” Kid Reverie recalls. “It’s pretty nostalgic to listen back and think about how we were trying to figure each other out. It ended up being a cosmic lullaby. I remember referencing it in my car and my daughter asked to hear it again. Always a good sign.”
Chris Williams and Kid Reverie hope the songs on Something from Nothing inspire others in their art: “not to be afraid to take chances musically.” Their music illuminates the struggles of the human soul, lighting a path between the shadows and light that leads from despair, fear, and loss to hope, courage, and love.
Something from Nothing Tracklist:
Half a Mile
Warning Bell (feat. Kid Reverie)
More About Chris Williams:
Chris Williams’ ability to weave different sounds into a seamless whole comes naturally. He grew up near Greensboro, North Carolina, and his father, Allen Calhoun, was a bluegrass musician who played a little bit of everything. Williams was playing banjo by the time he was ten, and he and his father traveled constantly to bluegrass festivals where his father played. Williams grew to be a big fan of New Grass Revival and their innovative ways of stretching traditional bluegrass in new directions. In his 20s and 30s, he played with rock bands and heavy metal bands, honing his instrumental chops and even taking the drums. He moved into jazz under the influence of Steely Dan’s Aja. Though he got away from music for a few years, he started buying recording equipment and eventually set out to make an album. When his father died in 2007, he started writing and collecting songs that he says grew out of a “confluence of personal stories and musical styles.” 2019’s The Farewell Tour, an album that wove bluegrass and folk and jazz together, was the result. A year later, Williams penned another set of songs for his 2020 release To Be Determined, an expansive journey into the Americana soundscape. Williams combines lyrical ingenuity with a gift for finding the just-right melodic vibes in which to wrap his words. As he says, “I am trying be true to myself and to articulate my truths in my music and lyrics. I listen carefully and deeply to the work of other artists and glean from them what I can that will help me express my own truths.”
More About Kid Reverie:
Kid Reverie is out of Boulder featuring the voice and writing of Steve Varney, guitarist/banjoist for Gregory Alan Isakov and former leader of the band Glowing House. In September 2018, Varney officially introduced Kid Reverie with a rock record both tender and furious. As an artist with several aesthetic interests, Kid Reverie will ebb and flow throughout time, with a perpetual emphasis on solid songwriting and honesty.