Digging through the crates of local records released over the years, folks can find piles of endearing one-offs among heavy hitters like Band of Horses and Jump, Little Children. If listeners brush the dust off of Inlaws’ self-titled debut from 2010, they’ll find a piece of local music history that harkens back to the days of this city’s Americana phase. Things were a little less developed, but felt like they were on the verge of boiling over into the national eye, just like today.
In retrospect, Inlaws are a good snapshot of the music scene at the turn of the decade: strange and approachable. With the announcement that the beautifully titled follow-up album Againlaws was imminent, many questions remain.
For starters, what’s changed in that period?
Simple. “Just some time,” Mechanical River mastermind Joel Hamilton says.
For those who don’t know, Inlaws were an indie supergroup consisting of Hamilton and singer-songwriter Owen Beverly of Indianola. The duo officially announced their collaboration in 2009. At the time, Hamilton was best known for his indie band the Working Title, while Beverly had caught the public eye with his band Tent Revival and his solo album Shooting the Bull.
In the near decade since the first album, both artists have plugged away at their careers. Beverly recorded his album Exit Wound in Denmark in 2014 and announced his next project Indianola one year later. Meanwhile, Hamilton has continued to be a beloved local songwriter, releasing his 2017 album Posterity. The LP’s single “Pomelos” was greeted with a Billboard Magazine premier when it dropped.
So, why after all this time would the duo do another Inlaws album?
Again, simple. “After all this space, why not,” Hamilton says.
If there was any doubt that the duo and their backing band had lost a step being out of the light for so long, it was dispelled by a barn-burning set at 2018’s Summer Shindig. Hamilton says that writing and recording for Againlaws was just as natural as the performance hinted. “There was a conscious amount of flow that came almost immediately and nearly carried us through the entire process,” says Hamilton. “This album was tracked almost completely live in a few days with Owen, myself, and Jack Burg on drums. Andy Dixon helped us with the engineering and mixing.”
Given that Hamilton and Beverly are both seasoned and lauded songwriters by themselves, the two still make a versatile team. “It’s similar in that each song is created unique,” Hamilton says about the collaborative songwriting process with his counterpart. “Its inception and creation are likely different from the last. There is definitely more collaboration involved in the writing process for Inlaws songs.”
The duo’s first album was full of down-home folk tunes and dreamy lyrics. “All the horses, they’re on fire/ They’re running all around you/ My heart fills with desire/ I’m so glad I found you,” they sing on “Slipping Away.”
“The Ballad of Sam Boone” is an amalgam of the band’s personalities. The track’s a little heavier and darker, but doesn’t shy away from the easy-listening category.
Not too much of Againlaws has been released, but in the sneak peek the band lets fans and listeners hear a wider instrumentation than the previous record. According to Beverly, the band recorded the record four years ago, saying that it “has become a time capsule of sorts.” Folks will find out more once the album is released on Nov. 23.
While the band likes to spring back to life every few years, like they did with their 2015 tour with Shovels & Rope and within the occasional Shrimp Records Family Band appearance around town, the duo doesn’t know if Againlaws is another quick flash in the pan or the beginning of more consistent music from two of the city’s best-known songwriters. Hamilton says, “Only a sith deals in absolutes.”