Blank Page EP by The War and Treaty | Album Review
Tanya and Micheal with a sampler of blues, country, and gospel infused Americana that is sure to get the toes tapping.
On a whim I had found The War and Treaty’s debut album The Healing Tide and grabbed it off the self. I am so glad that I did. Husband and wife duo Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter put on quite a show live, something I got to see first hand at a Mavis Staple’s tribute concert at the Ryman. At that point, the duo completely sold me as some of the most exciting music coming out of the Americana scene in years. Tanya, whose background as a solo artist and in musical theater, prove to give her a powerful stage presence. Michael’s work at the keys and vocal strength only puts their work over the top in the best way possible. Right before their CMA debut, the duo released their latest E.P., Blank Page. I knew as soon as I heard they had put something new out that I had to give it a listen.
“We could not be more excited to release this new body of work into the atmosphere and give fans a chance to experience the heart of our upcoming album.”
We open the album with honey colored “That’s How Love Is Made”. The Hammond B3 work casts the entire song in a lemony warm sound. It’s an Americana sound made perfectly for Nashville’s Ryman stadium (whose nickname is the Mother Church). It’s a good song to sway to. The main theme of the song is if you think you can keep a love alive by only taking the good, then you should know, “That ain’t how love is made.” Tanya and Michael sing on these moments which all revolve around the need for healthy communication and support in a relationship, “Can’t say I’m tired/ When I don’t ask for help/ Can’t want from you heaven/ Givin’ you hell.” Both parties do a fantastic job bringing the proper emotion to the these vows to be there for each other through thick or thin.
“Lover’s Game” brings us in the throws of infatuation as we try and court this person. The song is a healthy blend of blues and country. The slide guitar work brings to mind the bluesy tones of a Bonnie Riatt song. Tanya and Michael’s vocal performance is commanding as ever. The passion with which the duo sings the words matches the burn that this treacherous love continues to leave. This cautionary tone the two take on this seemingly rocky relationship, “Sound the alarm, get thе calvary/ I let someone get the best me, yeah,” plays wonderfully the blues rock sound. The title track, “Blank Page,” has a more gospel flavor mixed in with this helping of Americana. The church organ and piano give a tenderness to the words the duo sings. This holy feeling acts as a sort of cleansing to start anew, much like the title suggests.
“The song ‘Blank Page’ came at a pivotal moment for Tanya and I because much like everyone else trying to find their footing after the pandemic, we felt as if we were starting over and that can leave anyone feeling crippling or euphoric. It all depends on how you see it…and it just so happen that this time for us it’s euphoric.”
With verses like, “You’re a blank page/ Hopin’ for a love story/ One with no heartaches or tragedy to build up the glory,” you’re allowed to start fresh and heal with this love that you have found. Coming it at around 5 and a half minutes, it’s the longest song on the EP. That said, I really enjoy the gospel sound and absolution from your past that the words and love the two show provides to the listener.
We end out the E.P with the bright slow burner “Dumb Luck”. Similar to “Blank Page”, we mix a little gospel spice in with the B3 playing in the background. This song is more of a country ballad with it’s strings, piano melody, and very large sounding guitar and percussion work. The space that this song fills seems to be concert hall sized. All the many successes and blessing that was delivered upon them through their hard ships was just stumbled upon happenstance. I find the piano line to be a bit too similar Adele’s “Someone Like You” with little taste of Beyonce’s “Halo” by the time the second verse comes in. I think it comes from the commonality of the pop progression Michael has taken on the piano. For me, it sounds a little more generic compared to the other songs off of the EP.
I am always excited to hear what Michael and Tanya have to offer on any project they release. Their last album, Hearts Town, had many tracks that provided a beautiful blend of drama and power to the Americana scene. Compared to the rootsy sound of this last album, Blank Page, sounds a bit brighter and more gospel inspired. “Lover’s Game” is the outlier, having a much dirtier country rock and tears through you under the weight the duo’s vocals. I’ll be interested to see what other variety of sounds they experiment with when their next full album comes out. My favorites off this EP:
- “Lover’s Game”
- “Blank Page”
My overall rating: 6.5 out of 10.