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When he stepped into our studio to record this week’s Key Session, Nathan Allebach of Nathan Earl and Rachel Joy was wearing a City and Colour shirt. It was sort of a way of presaging what we were about to hear; delicate melodies and emotive vocals blending with a range of arrangements. Mellow and rootsy folk one moment gave way to to gutsy explosive rock the next, in the best imaginable way.

The core duo of Allebach and singer-songwriter Rachel Moyer have been friends since childhood, and had their own separate songwriting paths. Allebach played in various bands with members of Night Panther and Former Belle. Moyer, on the other hand, is what they refer to as a “bedroom songwriter” – as Allebach puts it, “she had all these cool tunes she did in her free time, but she was in South Carolina for school and didn’t have an ‘in’ on the scene down there so she didn’t pursue anything.”

In 2013, Moyer came home from school and Allebach asked her to sing harmonies with him for a show opening up for From Indian Lakes at The Note in West Chester, and that was the catalyst that brought them together – both creatively and romantically.

Last year, the duo released its elegant debut Repose, which covers a lot of sonic and emotional territory. The follow up Strangers EP is more sparse and serene, but for the session, Nathan Earl and Rachel Joy brought in an ace live band that shaped their songs with dynamic and affecting playing. Joining them are Nick Marglotta on guitar, Tyler James McMaster on bass, Charles Raffaele on drums and Tom Brucker on percussion, and you can stream their performance and grab a download below.

If you dig what you hear, you have two opportunities for more before they take the summer off to write a new LP: Nathan Earl and Rachel Joy play the Clark Park Music and Art Festival on June 20th, and they play Eunoia’s album release party in Telford on June 27th.

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