If life is measured by our leaps of faith, then singer-songwriter duo Chuck e. Costa and Mira Stanley have found a way to catch us midair as we jump headlong into the infinite abyss. Their debut album LOVE WE ARE WE LOVE finds the duo in suspended animation, exploring moments of the unfolding future through their sincere, storyline lyrics, intimate harmonies and emotive sonic landscapes.
“It wasn’t a theme we necessarily set out to pursue,” says Chuck, “but all of the songs on this record take place immediately before, in the midst of, or after a decisive plunge into the unknown, believing the proverbial net will appear. This could mean uprooting and moving somewhere new, what comes of falling in or out of love, following a dream—and the struggle to confront these things honestly.”
It was a sign – very literally – that first brought Chuck and Mira together. “She was actually holding a sign with my name on it,” recounts Chuck, who was showcasing in a songwriting contest that Mira had volunteered to stage-manage. However, it wasn’t until the fall of 2011, nearly five years later, when they reconnected to form THE SEA THE SEA. “We had both just gone through major upheavals in our lives,” says Mira, “And we were ready to test our faith in what was possible – in our art and in the world.” They borrowed their name from Xenophon’s Anabasis, the ancient tale of Greek soldiers returning to their coastal home after a long arduous battle inland. “The Sea! The Sea!” is a cry of joy.
Once they began writing and singing together, it didn’t take long for Chuck and Mira to weave their many voices into one. They’ve already received praise from NPR and No Depression and now, by enlisting the careful production of Todd Sickafoose (Ani DiFranco, Andrew Bird) with accompaniment like tuned wineglasses and swathing strings, they’ve created their honest and ethereal debut album, Love We Are We Love.
They accompany each other with electric/acoustic guitars, the occasional banjo, piano, and percussion, but it is Chuck and Mira’s rich harmonies that provide the depth to their songwriting. Their perfectly matched voices sometimes share the back-and-forth conversations of the song’s characters and other times are the exchanges of one mind, weighing a decision, analyzing the moment, and trying to find the answers.
“There’s a reoccurring idea on the record that we really wanted to explore,” Mira says, “of the question and the answer being completely entwined or even the same (hence the palindromic album title). The leap of faith for example, what does it mean to really begin contemplating the leap? Have you already leapt just by asking the question in the first place? When is it too late to turn back? What happens next? And what is it that we can find in all of those spaces in-between?”
Each song is about it’s own leap, autobiographical or otherwise. In the album-opening “Re: Blah,” Chuck comforts his younger sister as she wonders “what’s the point of all this?” “Guess It Was” wrote itself during the night as Mira was coping with the passing of her grandfather. “Watertreader” finds the protagonist stuck in a situation where the mind has already moved on, but the body isn’t yet ready join it. The echoing and canon-like “Love We Are We Love” is the anthem that accompanies a leap of faith, and “Ten Thousand Birds” imagines all of mankind in a surge of courage taking that leap all at once like a murmuration of birds.
Indeed, The Sea The Sea implores us through beautiful song and their own connectedness to believe that we all exist in this world together, as we stare into the unknowable future. Though the album closes with the universal image of an amoebic flock of birds, Chuck and Mira shared the key to navigating it all at the very beginning, opening the album with the same belief that brought them together: “There is no such thing as having too much faith.”