Material: The Cover Letter is a five-piece band with influences from country, folk, rock and pop. Original material sheds light on somber topics such as self-doubt and heartbreak, but the band conveys optimistic passion, contagious energy and earnest conviction. From the folk-rock “Her Eyes, the Ocean,” with brilliant instrumental progression and strong blues-like vocals, to “As Is,” an alternative leaning effort that highlighted the vocals, and the more traditional country “Somethings,” the band proves they need no classification to create meaningful experiences.
Musicianship: While compelling and passionate vocals from Shipman and Barbo are harmonious highlights, the unique instrumental duties steal the show. The multi-instrumentalists, including Nall, Roaché and Stanfield, change roles every song, incorporating harmonicas and tambourines that take the music to a new, exciting level. Drums were always dominant while the piano added a pleasant, subtle layer to the organized chaos. Overall, the band showcased effortless quality, immense energy and cohesiveness.
Performance: The group gave an organic and thrilling performance as if nothing but the music mattered. From Americana inspirations and rock-infused elements to the toe-tapping, hoedown-like vibes and slower, softer ballads, the performance was a mixed bag of tricks that never came off as forced or stale.
As the band began, the crowd was only a dozen strong but continuously grew. Though there were technical mishaps, which caused the vocals to get drowned out on a track or two, the unexpected moments of audience participation and an off-stage drumming showcase kept the audience’s attention.
Summary: The Cover Letter could be the “next big thing.” With raw emotion, the band gave the audience an exciting show focused on their ever-developing, one-of-a-kind sound. Diverse components may fight for the spotlight, but the sharp instrumentals will please those with a love for traditional country-styled music and those who search for more upbeat, radio-friendly offerings. It is difficult to place The Cover Letter into a box—it would actually be an injustice to do so, and that is their most appealing aspect.
The Players: Jacob Shipman, lead vocals, guitar, drums, harmonica; Chelsea Barbo, lead vocals, guitar, piano; Jarrod Nall, bass, piano, guitar; Johnni Roaché, bass, piano, guitar, harmonica; Trevor Van Stanfield, drums, guitar.
Venue: The Pecan Festival – Neches Stage
City: Austin, TX
Photo by Angela Timbeross