More than three years ago, Amanda and Berek Awend gave a sneak-peak of their new song, Oseh Shalom, when they were interviewed for TC Jewfolk’s Who The Folk?! Podcast. Now, the rest of their album is out to go with it, and they weren’t even the ones who broke that bit of news.
The announcement that the album was out on Spotify wasn’t even made by them either — that honor went to Joe Buchanan, a well-known Jewish-Americana musician from Houston who is credited on two of the tracks on Peace & Harmony.
“Every day I was checking Spotify; is it there yet, is it there yet?” Amanda said. “The next thing we know, Joe announced it.”
After sharing their rendition of Oseh Shalom and then participating in the first Common Sound Music Festival at Beth El Synagogue, they immediately started recording.
“It was a super fun time to record four great songs with really great musicians,” she said. “It just took a while to wrap it all up. But we’re very proud of how it came out.”
Of course, the delay caused by the pandemic didn’t help, either.
“One thing that was cool is people were throwing out there all the home recording stuff that they were doing,” Berek said. “So at some point, I was like ‘let’s finish it.’ We had a little bit more time than normal. But it was just the fire we needed to get it done and finish it.”
Amanda said that in addition to getting their own album finished and released, they also contributed to other musicians’ projects.
“Throughout the pandemic, either together or separately, we had different individual musicians reach out to us for vocal things, keyboards, mandolin, guitar,” said Amanda, who also was asked to record a mouth harp, which makes a “boing” sound. “At the same time, it was a really awesome way for the music community to be together when you couldn’t be together. We were just at the tail end of that with our album, but it was really neat to get to participate with other musicians on their albums, which have since come out.”
The collaboration with others on their own album, Berek said, is part of what made it sound great.
“We sent Joe Modeh Ani, and he said it was missing some vocals, so he recorded something, sent it back, I sent it to Dylan (Nau, the album’s producer),” Berek said. “He mixed it up and it made the whole song.”
Peace & Harmony is the second Jewish music album from the couple but isn’t a direct follow up to 2011’s Jewish Americana.
“If you listen to the two they’re totally different, which is cool,” Berek said. “We both have done a lot of stuff since then. I think we took some risks on it and it really shows. There are a few different things we did, just the whole vibe isn’t necessarily an Americana vibe anymore.”
Said Amanda: “It gave us the opportunity to break out of that mold a little bit at the time that we did our first album that was 100% what we were into, and 100% what we were trying to make. But I think any musician really has the ability to align with different genres and not have to just be pigeonholed to one.”
The couple wasn’t sure if another music style would be next for a third album.
“We’re always really proud of whatever comes out,” Amanda said. “And I would never have known that the music that we made for the second one would follow what we made for the first one. And so it would be neat to see where we are in a couple of years and what music we’re into.”