On “Katie Queen of Tennessee,” Apache Relay break out of the “folk rock” tag that’s been stapled to them. The Nashville band formed in a dorm and began as an acoustic project before expanding into a six-member band and opening for Mumford & Sons. While the band never explicitly claimed to be an acoustic or folk-rock group, they found that in the wake of Mumford mania, they’d been branded as such. “Katie Queen of Tennessee” finds the band pushing past that label with inspiration from Phil Spector and Philly soul.
“This was the first song we tracked, and I think it ended up dictating where the rest of the record went, at least in a production sense,” Apache Relay frontman Michael Ford Jr. tells Rolling Stone.
The tune opens with an ascending violin that echoes classic Gamble and Huff productions before folding out into a classic Spector-ish wall of sound. As the forceful but sweet melody rolls forward, Ford croons a plea to the song’s namesake. Meanwhile, gossamer strings in the background along with an angelic-sounding chorus provide passionate but muted support. There’s still folk-rock in here, but you have to dig through layers of harmony to find it.
Apache Relay’s new album is out on April 22nd.