Central Virginia’s Free Union started 2020 on a roll. The group was tapped by WNRN to appear live on the nationally syndicated program World Cafe, NPR was spinning their music, festivals were reaching out, and a palpable sense of momentum was emerging. The contours of the few months of the story are familiar by now. Tour dates postponed, festivals cancelled, creativity brickwalled.
Months went by, until in an effort to kickstart songwriting the group’s drummer and producer Rob Dunnenburger emailed a handful of simple loops, more sketches of ideas than full songs, to vocalist and primary lyricist Michael Coleman. That spark of inspiration was enough to lead to full arrangements of two new songs “Somethin’” and “The Other Side”, which the group fleshed out by recording parts from home until the songs began to take shape.When it came time to record the lyrics, Coleman described his intuitive approach,
“I’ve always adhered to the rule of not having rules when I write (laughs), because I never want to stifle what’s happening in the moment.”
Fueled by raw emotion he simply let the music wash over him and came out with whatever words felt right and in a matter of “20 to 30 minutes” the song was finished.
The pair also talked about how their Quarantunes series, in which they recorded and filmed cover songs from separate locations, paved the way for the group to record and create original music in a remote setting. As Dunnenburger describes:
“Eventually it drove inspiration because we learned how to collaborate over this strange medium and communicate through a group chat on an arrangement and all of those things”
For now the band has their sights set on picking up where they left off last year with a crowdfunding campaign just announced to help release that long-awaited debut album they originally began recording in November of 2019. Find out more and support the campaign at www.gofundme.com/free-union-2021-release-fund