Michael and Tanya Trotter, the married duo known as The War and Treaty, played the Hope Givers Mental Wellness & Music Festival in LaGrange, GA recently. It wasn’t their highest profile set of the past year by any means, but with a theme and setting like that, the Trotters seemed destined to be there. They radiate hope and joy. Their debut album is entitled Healing Tide. They are a love delivery vehicle.
The Trotters have played WMOT events before, and we adore them as people and artists. So we’re honored they’ll be closing out Friday, May 31 with a 10 pm set at Hop Springs Beer Park at the inaugural 895 Fest. Not only will their rousing fusion of folk songwriting, gospel fervor and rock and roll energy give us just the shot we need at the right time of night, their set makes us look good. Because W&T have been absolutely killing it out there. They headlined the Troubadour in LA and wrapped a series of huge dates with the Rev. Al Green. They made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry in April. And they were just nominated as Americana Emerging Artist of the Year.
As 2018 began, The War And Treaty were newly on the radar of an influential subset of fans and music professionals thanks to a breakthrough set at AmericanaFest. The couple was slated to be guests on a Buddy Miller showcase at the large-capacity Cannery Ballroom. When Miller fell ill, he arranged for the Trotters to take his slot and headline the show. The audience was caught off guard by the duo’s mighty soul sound and even more perhaps by their personal dynamic. Michael and Tanya exude affection for one another, even as they include the crowd in their circle of love. They blew the room away and became the buzz of the conference.
To be sure, with voices and songs like the Trotters’ they were likely destined to find their way to Americana hearts and charts, but a right-time-right-place moment didn’t hurt. The War And Treaty launched a relentless year of touring. Billboard touted them as one of ten must-see acts on the summer festival circuit. They hit many of roots music’s prestige venues: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Mountain Stage and Live From Here with Chris Thile among them. And they made a triumphant return to AmericanaFest 2018, where they closed out Friday night at the Cannery and made a dozen more appearances through the week.
In August, The War And Treaty released the debut LP, Healing Tide, produced in Nashville by Buddy Miller. It captured the stomp-clap fervor of the live performance and even more it spotlit the duo’s songwriting, with lyrics by Michael. The songs of love and ardor for one another have classic R&B lines and inspired little turns. In the mesmerizing album closer “Little New Bern,” Michael puts the storytelling he learned in Iraq to more peaceable purposes with a rumination on the farm in rural North Carolina where Tanya spent summers growing up. While “One And The Same” is a subtle, prayerful dismantling of social division and political wall-building. Rolling Stone praised its “superb country-soul arrangements and powerful statements of devotion.”