Tucson's Copper & Congress is a self-described "indie soul" trio of singer/guitarist/keyboardist Katie Haverly, bassist Patrick Morris, and drummer Julius Schlosburg.
"We formed in 2012," Haverly recalls. "We had a different drummer and guitar player. Patrick and I have been together since the beginning. Our guitar player quit and our drummer moved away, so we got Julius a year ago."
Copper & Congress' first album, The Leap Year (2012), was a somewhat transitional effort more indebted to singer-songwriter Americana, but this year's just-released Fault Line is where the trio finds its own voice, in a more rhythm-based style improbably influenced by the likes of mid-'90s trip hop of Portishead, Bjork, and Jamiroquai.
Haverly explains, "Patrick and I started to write together more and I think we kind of landed on our sound. We'd only been together for about three months when we recorded our first record. We all felt way more confident this time. The last record, I played guitar on almost everything but on this one I played a lot more keyboard. I feel like this one is a lot more groove based. That was the big shift. We're really exploring and celebrating that. ... These songs feel a little more sensual."
Her inclinations are correct: Tracks like "Deja Vu" and "Shy" feature an expansive and, well, trippy sound not present on the debut. The more intricate arrangements show a profound leap in the band's quality and soulfulness.
"We took a lot more time on this one and we went into Wavelab [Recording Studio] for four different recording sessions," the singer says. " We took a lot more time and produced this one ourselves -- all the instrumentation and arranging. We had a pretty clear idea what we wanted. It was exciting. ... We all played a lot of different instruments in the studio. It was an amazing and stressful experience.
"Honestly, this is first time in my life where I feel great about every song on a record I helped make. We didn't give up if we didn't like something; we went back and reworked it until we were happy with it."
Haverly points to one track in particular that Copper & Congress is proud of. "Red" may be Fault Line's highpoint -- a multi-section funk jam partially written on the fly.
"The song 'Red' was really exciting to record," she says. "It has two different parts; it has a real spacey ending. We improvised most of that ending in the studio, in the moment. We played all these different instruments that we hadn't played before. It was just really organic how it came together--very open.
"The three us come from really different backgrounds and the fact that we came together is really beautiful. Julius has a jazz background; Patrick comes from funk and hip-hop -- that's what he really loves. I come from a more singer-songwriter background. But we found this great middle ground."