Americana duo Balsamo Deighton released their debut album Unfolding today.
Swansea’s Steve Balsamo is perhaps best remembered for his work as solo recording artist as well fronting the Welsh band The Storys and before that, having a successful run in London’s West End playing the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar.
Rosalie Deighton grew up in the successful folk band The Deighton Family and is considered one of Britain’s finest female vocalists. Following supporting The Storys on tour, the band asked Rosalie to collaborate with them.
When The Storys called it a day, Steve and Rosalie took it as a sign that the time was right to make some music together. They called on friend and songwriter Julian Wilson with recordings eventually taking place under the supervision of John Reynolds in North London. Now, at last, Balsamo Deighton’s album debut is here and Andy Howells puts questions to the pair about the album.
How did you meet each other and what gave you the idea to collaborate?
Steve: Rosalie and I met in London at producer Martin Terefe's studio about 15 years ago. We both love the same music and talked back then of writing together. Rosalie supported our old band, The Storys, and joined a few years later, helping us write our third album, Luck. After the Storys ended, we both had ideas and started writing at Julian Wilson from Grand Drive's South London studio. Very quickly we thought we had some good songs, and then slowly began making our debut album, Unfolding.
You both participated in Wales at Number One at Wales Millennium Centre last year giving a memorable rendition of Nilsson’s Without You, which of course was written by Badfinger. Was that an enjoyable experience?
Rosalie: Amazing! Singing with the amazing orchestra, which I had never done live before brought out such emotion. I'll never forget it. I'd like us to record a few songs like that.
Steve: I've known Lucy Morgan and Matt Brind from The Welsh Pops Orchestra for years. The players they put together that night were sensational, and Matt was really sympathetic to us bringing our duet style to Without You. We had fantastic time.
Rosalie: I guess it has. We listen to other artists of the same genre and we live and breathe this style of music. It was bound to filter through into our sound.
Steve: We've just tried to write the best songs we can, taking country influences, some rock and folk. We love a big chorus too, so some of the album is very radio friendly, we think. We've made an album that we'd love to listen to.
What can you tell us about your new album?
Steve: We started the album in London and finished it in Wales with producer Tim Hamill, in his Sonic One Studio in Llangennech. All the songs are based on experiences we've had in life and love! Since we started the project some friends have passed away, and in my case Frankie, a son has joined sister Issy. All this has filtered into the fabric of the songs. There are songs about falling in love with the right person at the wrong time (Run Back To Your Life), a song about taking chances that come your way (50 Foot Jesus), a song about the late founder and keyboard player of Deep Purple Jon Lord, who I toured with for 5 years until his death (The Dream Song).
The song I'm probably most proud of is the title track, Unfolding. When we toured with The Storys, a guy used to come and see us a lot with his son. He was a soldier and was unfortunately killed in action. We got the news, and before a show, his dad came with a member of his squadron to collect one of our songs to be played at his funeral. It was devastating and humbling to be part of his story, and his unfolding. We were inspired to build it into a song as a small way of honouring him.
Has the album been a different experience to putting together your previous releases?
Rosalie: Absolutely. For a start, we had no time frame and no record label to influence us in any way. It was so organic, so natural so lovely. So US!
Rosalie: I have a very good friend who has done a few tours of Afghanistan. He was suffering from post traumatic stress I guess. I would lay next to him while he slept and listen to his breathing, sometimes I'd panic as he stopped breathing and then start up again, crying. I just wanted to help him.
Will you both be touring with the new album?
Rosalie: Yes - I hope this album takes us round the world. I have my passport and guitar ready at all times
Will there be opportunities for you both to revisit older material in your live shows too, because naturally you both have followings from previous collaborations?
Steve: Maybe we will revisit some of our old material, as Andy Collins from The Storys has been writing with us for this album. He's one of my favourite writers and musicians I've worked with, and there's almost a psychic connection between the three of us. I'm really proud about nearly everything I've been involved with artistically over the years, and there have been some really good tunes I've been involved with. However, we've written nearly 30 songs for Unfolding, so there's no shortage of Balsamo Deighton material.
Rosalie: There could be, but as long as Steve doesn't put on his loin cloth and start singing Gethsemane! (a nod to Steve’s role in Jesus Christ Superstar).
How can fans keep up to date with your latest news and developments?
Rosalie: Through our social media, you can find us on our individual Facebook and Twitter pages, and our Balsamo Deighton ones.Come and say Hi!
- Balsamo Deighton’s new album Unfolding is available now. Visit balsamodeighton.com. for details.
- Andy Howells is a freelance entertainment writer. A version of this Q&A was published in the South Wales Argus entertainment supplement the Guide on February 5, 2016.