Entering Softly

Eau Claire indie-folk band set to release first EP

Lindsey Quinnies, photos by Andrea Paulseth

KILLING US SOFTLY WITH THEIR SONG. Eau Claire-based indie-folk rockers Softly, Dear plan on releasing their first EP, Portico, on Friday, June 7.
KILLING US SOFTLY WITH THEIR SONG. Eau Claire-based indie-folk rockers Softly, Dear plan on releasing their first EP, Portico, on Friday, June 7.

Softly, Dear is a fairly recent indie-folk addition to the already rich Eau Claire music scene that loves jam sessions, exploring their stylistic range, and refining their sound. Their musical influences range from a broad variety of acts such as Miles Davis, Radiohead, and The Avett Brothers to local ones, including Laarks and Meridene.

Softly, Dear is composed of several Eau Claire musicians, including the latest addition, Addie Strei (also of EC band Adelyn Rose) on bass. Strei joined the band after encountering some of the other members on the UW-Eau Claire track team. The rest of Softly, Dear is Alex Adkinson on drums, Ben Possi playing the keys, Tyler Hart lending his voice and guitar, and Josh Frederick on lead guitar. All of them are current or former UWEC students.

“A portico is an architectural term for a porch leading to an entryway. This EP represents our first body of work as a band; it is our introduction.”
– Alex Adkinson, drummer for Softly, Dear, on the title of the band’s debut EP

The group takes a collective approach to their music-making (and to their question-answering). “Every member plays a unique role in the songwriting process,” band members wrote. “What typically happens is a member will present a song skeleton to the group. Then, every member formulates their own contribution within a heavily improvised jam session, which leads to a very collaborative writing process that allows for creative expression from each member of the group.”

An obviously successful combination, the group formed in late summer 2012 and began tracking its first EP on New Years Day. After an initial planned release date earlier in spring, Softly, Dear took some extra time perfecting tracks and is now releasing its first EP, Portico, at a live performance at 7pm Friday, June 7, at the Volume One Gallery. The EP will also be available directly through the band; at local retailers, such as The Local Store at Volume One World Headquarters; and online at softlydear.bandcamp.com.

Adkinson shares the reasoning for the album title: “I previously had taken an entry level architecture class and for some reason this term stuck with me. A portico is an architectural term for a porch leading to an entryway. This EP represents our first body of work as a band; it is our introduction. We felt this term reflected that sentiment as well as just sounded nice.”

Portico was recorded at Pine Hollow Audio in Eau Claire with the help of local recording guru Evan Middlesworth, who provided not only an “incredible experience” for the band but also his own expertise and genuine sentiment for the record.

“Evan worked closely with us and you could tell that he cared about these songs as much as we did, even going so far as to collaborate with us on songwriting and instrumentation,” Adkinson says. “Without Evan’s input this EP would have taken on a completely different sound.”

Even if Portico is technically 2 minutes short of a being full-length album, its originality overrides its “shortcomings.” Softly, Dear lets loose on this album and band members feel that their “more traditional approach to instrumentation has become almost untraditional,” making their unique sound something to be heard.  Alex, Ben, Tyler, Josh, and Addie hope that listeners form their own interpretation of lyrics which are “deeply personal, but hopefully relate able” and try to write songs resonate with them for a particular reason, “be it a driving dance beat or passionate guitar solo.”

Softly, Dear will be perform an EP release show at 7pm, Friday, June 7, at the V1 Gallery, 205 N. Dewey St., and as part of the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series on Aug. 22 in Phoenix Park.

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