While the reverberating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have begun to feel like a normal part of everyday life after a year and a half of varying degrees of quarantine, there’s still something to be said about the sheer magnitude of the paradigm shift it spurred… especially when it comes to art and music.
For many musicians, the onset of the pandemic was so sudden and the economic consequences so severe that it rendered them unable to fully respond… for others, the circumstance left them with nothing but time to reflect. And for East Nashvillians, Mallory Graham and Scott Tyler—who make up the Americana duo The Rough And Tumble—there was certainly a lot to reflect on.
This past September, the duo unveiled two of the tunes they wrote during that time: “Pie” and “Make A Way,” beautifully passionate expressions of the social, political, and medical turbulence folks have been enduring since March 2020.
“Both songs are products of the extracurricular hardships of 2020 and the conversations we were having in that year and continue to have,” Graham tells American Songwriter. “In a year of social unrest and political insanity on top of a global pandemic (you remember 2020, right?) these songs become a reckoning of our involvement, internally and externally.”
“Pie” locks into an Americana, harmonica-clad groove, paired with impactful, activist-minded lyrics. “It’s a plucky protest song about women’s rights (read: human rights),” Tyler explains. “It’s unabashed in its punch and its euphemism and is reflective of the horrific conservative sweep to withhold or take away life-saving healthcare from over half of the population. It started as no-nonsense, reading about yet another state that was attempting to pass the Heartbeat Bill—and Mallory’s reaction, wide-eyed and fed up, ‘Get your goddamn fingers out of my pie!’ The song unraveled itself from there, and where we ended was an anthem of both tongue-in-cheek commentary and warranted outrage. With the recent news of the Texas Heartbeat Bill being instated in September of this year, this song is becoming ever more relevant as a rallying cry to stop the attack on women’s rights.”
On the flip side of the justified anger expressed on “Pie,” the other single, “Make A Way,” constitutes an impassioned plea for unity and camaraderie.
“It’s about building a bigger table,” Tyler stated. “It came out of the first lyric, You’re not gonna lose, by not having the answers/ Not gonna miss your one shot by taking a chance. I think a lot of people get hung up on needing to have the answers, to be right, and to have it all figured out before they can engage with other people or offer support for something as basic as human dignity. But there’s space to figure it out together. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we need each other. And it’s our belief that having open hands, open ears and the willingness to learn is the best way forward. The song came easily and almost all at once—an almost primal forward motion to put the conflict of these last couple of years behind us. Not to enter into a life of ease, but to work even harder—together.”
The Rough And Tumble’s new singles “Pie” and “Make A Way” are out now—listen to them below: