The Alaskan-born daughter of a folk musician, Tekla Waterfield comes by evocative, poignant songwriting honestly. Waterfield has played music in various formations in Seattle since she moved to the area in 2010, but most recently, she’s stepped out on own to write and perform with her husband, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jeff Fielder.
Hunkered down together the last few months in their Seattle abode, watching the world unravel from the COVID pandemic and racial strife, Waterfield has wasted no time in taking to the medium she often uses to compute complex, emotional issues—her songs. For many months in the early phase of the pandemic, Waterfield and Fielder performed in many livestream concerts on Facebook and other platforms, including a virtual show called “Songs of Hope and Healing” put on by Seattle’s local music nonprofit, Artist Home.
Community members took notice of the pair’s hustle and heart—and that led them to the opportunity to record today’s premiere track, “Trouble in Time,” and the rest of their forthcoming record by the same name, which arrives January 7th, 2021.
“The guy that runs Doe Bay Resort and Retreat out on Orcas Island, he just happened to see [our] videos and he, at some point, decided he wanted to help artists. He extended us an invitation to come stay at the resort and pay us to play if we wanted to, or we could just hang out,” says Waterfield. “As soon as we got invited we were like, oh yes, we want to get out of our house and go somewhere peaceful. I was like, let’s just use this opportunity while we’re in this place and record.”
As the second single from the record, “Trouble In Time” serves as a perfect example of Waterfield’s unique ability to spin beauty and truth out of what she calls very heavy times. “When I allow myself to feel things, like when I turn it on and really react and listen to the news and watch what’s being said—people of color’s very real heartfelt expressions around how they’ve been treated—and really allow that to hit, it’s like a wave of just terrible, terrible, terrible sadness,” says Waterfield. “So you know, writing a song like that was just a way for me to have an outlet for some of that heaviness, some of that feeling.”
The track begins with the mellow growl of Fielder’s guitar, and Waterfield’s silky voice gently singing, “Watching days unfold, what each day will hold, it’s like a bad dream you can’t wake up from,” she sings. “Remember unity, remember grace, lead us to a better place.” There’s yearning here, and also despair.
The chorus is a repetition of the song’s title, which Waterfield says was originally “Troublin’ Times.” After a suggestion from her husband, she changed the phrase to honor of Representative John Lewis’ famous quote about causing change and making “good trouble,” which felt more representative of what the pair wanted to say.
“It felt like it encompassed all of that, and then disappointment with the way things are going in America and the sadness of the continuation of racism and people not being willing to talk about it,” says Waterfield. “And wanting to be out there and be heard, but how it got turned around, like ‘you guys are just a bunch of hooligans.’ People need to be able to call attention when things are going wrong.”
“Trouble In Time,” is Waterfield and Fielder using their voices in dissent and protest—but more than that, it’s also a balm. The haunting ear-worm of a melody, the slow waltzing groove, and the tender musical conversation between husband and wife gives the weary listener just enough time to pause, ponder, and look to the horizon for hope.
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