I got hip to rootsy Austin, Texas, duo The Wind and The Wave last fall upon hearing the single “Grand Canyon” on the radio a bunch of times. It’s from their album “Happiness Is Not a Place,” released a few days before Halloween. The song is off-the-hook catchy. Singer Patty Lynn’s got a set of pipes that pack a twangy punch, and the song opens with the lines “Down to your skivvies at the watering hole/Gonna get you wet, gonna save your soul/It’s the damnedest thing.”
Fast forward to about two months ago when I finally got around to listening to the entire record. I was spellbound instantaneously upon hearing the first song, “My Mind Is An Endless Sea.” “Breathe it in, let it out/Settle down/Why you carrying all that mess around,” sings Lynn in the acoustic tune surrounded by strings.
Lynn is the lyricist, and Dwight Baker’s the music and guitar guy. They joined forces a few years back after meeting in a recording studio when he was producing an album for her former band. The Wind and The Wave released “From the Wreckage” in 2014 and an EP called “Covers One” that includes their takes on Sia’s “Chandelier” and the Stevie Nicks tune “Edge of Seventeen.” These were both on RCA Records, but they’ve since been signed to Island Records, which released the latest one.
You may think I’m exaggerating, but so be it; I truly love all 13 songs on this album. They flow together like a river; sometimes calm, sometimes wild but always rife with Patty Lynn’s potent, personal lyrics. I can’t tell you what my favorite song is, but if I were in charge, “Anything For You” would be all over the radio.
I realized the best course of action to talk/gush about The Wind and The Wave would be to get Lynn on the phone. We chatted for more than a half hour, which is twice the amount of time I’m usually granted. It was a no holds barred, honest conversation about the album, the tour, the music business and what she does to stay sane. Here are some of the highlights:
How old were you when you started singing and when did you start writing songs?
I’ve sort of been singing my whole life. My mom will tell you that I had a play microphone in my hand when I was two years old. I just love singing. I probably didn’t write my first terrible, awful song until I was in high school. You have to get the terrible things out before the good things come out.
Your songwriting is so personal. Has it shifted over the years or have you always written the kind of songs that we can all sink our teeth into and adopt as personal anthems?
Ever since I’ve been writing with Dwight, it’s definitely been that way. I think my writing did kind of open a bit because I felt really comfortable with him, and I would just go into the studio, and we’d just start talking about personal things, about my life, and those things became songs. It was a really natural thing for me, specifically writing with Dwight because he made me feel comfortable and allowed me to talk about personal things, so I think it’s very specific to the fact that Dwight and I are in this project together.
Has anyone in your life ever said to you, “Wow, you went there in that song?”
My mom is very supportive, although she hasn’t necessarily always been super supportive and neither has my dad just because this is a very non-traditional thing to pursue with your life, and I think it worried them, but what they don’t understand is that it totally worries me, too, all the time. My mom, even though she’s very supportive now and she listens to the songs now, I think it’s hard for her to listen to a lot of the stuff because I do tend to write a lot about my family and my childhood. I had it pretty good, all things said and done. I have a great life. I think everyone kind of reflects on their past and realized that they’re parents aren’t perfect and they actually don’t know anything.
“Redhead in Aberdeen.” Can you talk about how it came to be?
We were on the only European tour we’ve ever been, and we started writing this song, and there literally was a redhead in Aberdeen, but it was just like a guy at the show in passing I was like, “He’s so cute,” and then I do have a friend in Los Angeles and this is kind of a personal story. I was already in a relationship with my now husband, and it took me a long time to really commit myself fully even after we were engaged and everything. The idea of being with this person forever was really hard for me to wrap my head around, and it totally freaked me out even though it was the thing that I wanted. So I totally had a wandering eye while I was on tour. Not like I ever cheated or anything but like I was all talk, and I definitely was looking around all the time.
What does your husband (Kevin) think of “Redhead in Aberdeen?” Does he laugh about it?
He doesn’t love it, but I think, like my mom, he’s always been super supportive, and it’s not his favorite song, but we’ve actually also talked about songs and talked about the lyrics in couples counseling before because it’s good to have a mediator, someone who has nothing to gain or no feelings to get hurt to see the broader picture and go like, “OK, she’s just writing about feelings and thoughts, ones that you probably have too, Kevin, but don’t feel the need to talk about with her and shouldn’t probably.” But these feelings and these thoughts sometimes make the best songs because they’re very relatable because other people have them all the time. It’s like digging into those things that you might not necessarily share with your significant other but you have to share with the world.
Can you talk about “My Mind Is An Endless Sea?” That’s a very special one to me.
The song is totally about me and my own brain. I can get super caught up in the moment in a terrible feeling and just feel like, “Oh no, my world is falling apart, I want do die.” And then an hour later the sun hits my face, and I’m like, “Oh, everything’s totally fine, I’m in a great space.” I can be a little, not that I’m diagnosed, but I can be a little bipolar in that way and can grab hold of a feeling and let it consume me.
What tends to snap you out of it?
Honestly, the sunshine does wonders. I like sweating. Sweating does good things for my brain.
8 p.m. Friday. Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland, $12 in advance, $15 day of show, $20 preferred seating, all ages. portcitymusichall.com