Imagine cramming your gear into the hatchback of your car and driving for two days to Northern California to cut a record in a secluded cabin in the woods. It’s the idyllic dream of just about any would-be singer-songwriter: hidden from the outside world by mountains and centuries-old trees, armed with just a guitar and a microphone, and willing and ready to let your music be infused by the natural surroundings. This is exactly how Danni and Kris decided to track their debut full-length album, Mountain Sounds –– a fitting way to document the Fort Worth acoustic duo’s cozy, coffee-and-sweater-weather songwriting.
Danni Nordan and Kris Williams met six years ago through mutual friends on social media. At the time, both had been pursuing music as solo artists. With this goal in common, the two struck up a friendship, and playing together seemed inevitable after a while.
“We started messaging each other about getting together to jam,” Williams said. “It happened slowly over the course of our friendship, and suddenly we were like, ‘Hey, I think we accidentally started a band.’ ”
As Danni and Kris, the two share vocal duties, trading songs or verses with their complementary soft yet powerful voices, offering each other perfectly blended harmonies in just the right spots. Each plays deceptively intricate guitar at times, and Williams mixes in ukulele on occasion. Both Nordan and Williams contribute to the writing of the group’s material. Whether they write a whole song together or help flush out the other’s ideas, they take pride in “soulful indie-pop,” in Williams’ words.
“We really get into our feelings when we write,” she said. “We use a lot of imagery in our lyrics to really paint the picture. Old relationships, loving yourself, moving on, and letting go of the past really define our album.”
Originally tracked two years ago, Mountain Sounds was finally released on October 14. The duet received production and engineering help from Danni’s husband Andrew Nordan, a musician in his own right. From writing to recording, mixing, and mastering, Williams and the Nordans were the only three people involved in the album from beginning to end, a process Williams describes as “very empowering.” From the lush string section-highlighted opening track “Yesterday” to the jaunty ukulele number “Brand New Boyfriend,” and the fluttering harmony-driven title track, the album is an intimate collection of dreamy ballads filled with whimsy and nostalgia that reflect the picturesque California environs where it was recorded.
“First, we stayed at a vineyard in Lodi, where we tracked the guitars,” Williams said. “We’d play for the guests in the winery at night. Then we trekked up to Big Tree City, where we stayed in a small cabin in the Sequoia Woods, where we did all the vocals. The whole trip was very inspiring.”
Since the album’s release, Danni and Kris have enjoyed doing what they love most: performing. They gig regularly around North Texas, usually three or four times a week. They’ve also appeared on WFAA’s Good Morning Texas twice this year. In addition to sets as their accustomed duo, Danni and Kris also play shows with a full band, in which they often supplement their usual acoustic numbers with a wide variety of covers that span from ’70s rock tunes to early 2000s pop.
“You could catch us playing at a local coffee shop one night,” Williams said, “and then see us on stage at the Fort Worth Convention Center the next day. Performing is our passion. We love playing anywhere.”
Danni and Kris plan to take their music on the road in the near future, ideally landing a coveted opening slot with a national act.
Danni and Kris
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