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Appalachia Moderna Raise Spirits By Playing With Ghosts

The Denver duo bring the past to life with their latest sonic & stylistic hybrid.

Appalachia Moderna keep hope and love alive by Playing With Ghosts in their evocative and entrancing new single — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

Continuing to live up to their band name by mixing traditional and contemporary musical and technical elements, the 11th single from the Denver duo of Jaida James and Jeff Scornavacca is another striking sonic and stylistic hybrid. Wrapped snugly inside warm, swirling layers of acoustic and slide guitars, yearning and soulfully angelic vocals paint an intimate portrait of love, loss and lingering feelings maintained through memory and music:

“Our story is changing don’t want it to end
Cause I’m missing you my friend
Left in the dark with this tender heart
Chasing our memories on your old guitar
Singing along with your voice in my head
“Heroes and demons
Promise and pain
Coming together, giving me strength
Getting lost in this moment
In a chorus of hope
Finding new life
Playing with ghosts.”

Although it will speak to anyone keeping a lost loved one alive in their heart and soul, Playing With Ghosts — penned with the duo’s long-time collaborators Carin Fradin and Chris Purner — was actually inspired by a John Mayer interview where he talked about learning guitar by playing along with old blues records. “We loved the idea and decided to focus on the idea of warm remembrance rather than strictly someone passing,” James and Scornavacca explain.

It’s not often that a band’s name perfectly reflects the sound of their music, but in Appalachia Moderna’s case, it fits to a T. Their melodies would have felt at home with the rich, emotive ballads and blues of centuries past, while the production surprises with edgy guitars and bold percussion. Their songs are dramatic and emotional, feeling both vast and intimate at the same time.

It’s even more impressive when you learn that James and Scornavacca don’t share the same sonic roots. She earned her chops at home, growing up in a family constantly creating or listening to music. he studied audio engineering at Berklee, and spent years touring as an audio engineer and a production manager. Their favourite artist lists don’t share much crossover, and their past songwriting credits navigate different genres. But their differences make for a perfect storm: Clear vocals over vibrant chords, with melodies rooted in folk and adorned in rich production.

Between the duo, tendrils of their appreciation of folk, rock, soul, jazz, Americana, and country can be found in their sound. “We differ on a lot of things,” Jaida says, “but I think where we come together is where we made those things overlap.”

The formation of Appalachia Moderna in 2021 was a creative bright spot in a year full of pandemic stress and unexpected turns. As everyone turned to digital co-writes in the spring, Jaida and Jeff first met and connected to write on Zoom. That first session went so well that the song became their first release, Time To Fly. “It’s just amazing that the first thing that we wrote together ended up being something that became our first release because other people loved it too,” Jeff says.

Listen to Playing With Ghosts above, hear more from Appalachia Moderna below, and find them at their website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.