Denver trio Edison is releasing a story-filled EP this Friday at the Larimer Lounge. Called Ghost, the four-track album is an ode to songwriter Sarah Slaton's mother, who passed away five years ago after a year-long battle with cancer. It's a story that is so ingrained in the music that it is only fitting that the album cover is a picture of a her, studying at Louisiana State University in 1971. Slaton recreates the image on the back cover. "Our journey was a full circle," she says. "When I was born she took care of me — bathed me, fed me, everything. And I did that for her at the end of her life — I feed her, showered her, took care of her. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me, but she was there for my first breath and I was there for her last."
Full circle is a term that comes up a lot for Edison, not only because the band played in Austin at SXSW for the first time as a group last week, two full years after members Slaton and Dustin Morris met at SXSW in 2013, but also because the first and last line of the album references San Jose, a road in Springdale, Arkansas where Slaton grew up. "I grew up in my moms house from the time born to when I was 23 and she passed. My sister and I had a ton of medical bills, and had to auction off the house and everything inside it," she says. "I was in the house with strangers going through her stuff, and so the song really talks about what it means to go home when you no longer have a home." Soon after her mom passed away, Slaton had a self-described "quarter-life crisis" and set off on a journey to find what life meant after her mom was gone. "The last line of the whole album is 'I don’t have a home,' because its kind of me saying goodbye to my mom."
The trio, comprising Slaton, Morris and Chris Cash, performed its first official show as Edison in July. Before that, Slaton and Morris were acquaintances with musical chemistry, mutual respect and similar goals. Slaton and Morris actually met while touring with each other — Slaton was the opening act for Morris's former project. "We were in a compact car together and we got through it," says Slaton. Although they had gear fall off of the top of the car, and had to nap using equipment as pillows, they created a bond jamming out together late into the night in hotel rooms after they finished their scheduled sets.
The bond was formed, and they soon turned it into a band, adding Cash to finish out their progressive folk sound (think City and Colour). In Edison's eight month history, it has been on three tours, and has another one planned for May. "We just make time for touring. Early on, we sat down and made a strategic year plan. We plan out what we want in the next four, six and twelve months and make deadlines," says Slaton. Maybe the band members' dedication is part of the reason why their first show was sold-out, but their success also has to do with the off-stage experience of the band—Slaton is a professional production manager and band agent, while Morris has been a singer/songwriter for decades. Together, they create a radiant, pure sound featuring Slaton's brilliant lyrics and Morris and Cash's mandolin and piano accompaniment. "I think we run a pretty fine line of being dreamers and realist, but we pull it off," says Morris of the balance between being knowledgable about the way the music works, but also being invested in their sound. "It [our sound] is timeless, multi functional. You can understand the meaning of it no matter where you are in life."
This most recent tour, for which Maxwell Hughes was the opening act for, will finish off at Larmier Lounge on Friday, and at Illegal Pete's in Fort Collins on Saturday before they head to LA for one last show during this stint. Edison will head back to the west coast in May. In the last week and a half, the band has performed in eleven cities, some at venues, some in living rooms. "It feels like our anniversary of our beginning. It's beautiful to think we traveled in a car as acquaintances, become friends, became band mates, and now we're family," says Slaton. "We're working together, playing together, and it feels like it has really come full circle, like it's just meant to be."
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And while this journey for Slaton feels like it has come around to meet itself, her quest for an emotional home is still being chased. "I mean, I still don’t feel like I have one [a home]. There is a reason I fly to events to work all the time. I think home is my friends and my band smate now. Having a real home, that's an old life. I don’t think i have home anymore. One day, maybe."
EP release Denver: April 3rd, Larimer Lounge, Science Partner, Rob Drabkin, Maxwell Hughes opening
EP release Fort Collins: April 4th, Illegal Petes
Online release: April 7th, details at https://www.facebook.com/listentoEdison
This is the official premier of the "Be Someone" music video. "We had a photos hoot scheduled on this SXSW tour in Springfield, Missouri with Chet Smith — who has been shooting me for almost a decade when I come through that town — and our photo shoot turned into us goofing off a bunch," says Slaton. "We turned the series of pictures into a stop motion movie of sorts."