Nature marches forward regardless of a pandemic. Folk duo Theo & Brenna were reminded of such beauty when spring was beginning to melt away winter’s frigid edges. “Our early months in shutdown were spent at home watching a robin building a nest on our windowsill,” Theo recalls.
Originally from Winchester, Kentucky, the sibling duo filmed the robin’s steady progress on their phones and shared various footage on Instagram and Facebook. Witnessing such splendor certainly provided a reprieve from the year’s gruesome headlines and a desperation to nurture relationships that seemed to slip further and further out of their grasps. “We tried staying connected with friends and family, but not being able to be together in person was something everyone was feeling the weight of,” Theo tells American Songwriter over email.
“Many of our friends in music were let go from their bands or forced to find alternative ways to make money,” he continues. “In the middle of the uncertainty, we were happily distracted by the robin on the windowsill she was feeding her babies and helping them take their first flights.”
The accompanying lyric video, animated by Milly Racoon, directly filters their observations and gives the viewer a peek into such an intimate, natural process. “The robin and her babies gave us hope that life was still happening, and the world was still turning even with the upheaval around us. This song is built on that hope,” notes Theo, whose voice tangles with Brenna’s on background harmony.
Brenna initially jotted down the song’s first draft in April. Once Theo read the lyrics, he was Instantly “moved” by the poetic imagery, he says. “The line ‘war without a fight’ rang really true to me. It described exactly how I felt about the world at the time.” Five months later, its message rings even more urgent, lonesome, and somehow hopeful.
“Let Us Breathe Again,” featuring Evan Winsor on bass and Gaven Largent on dobro, flutters with a soothing, angelic quality. “Do you remember a time when the world fell asleep,” observes Brenna with her own robin-like warble. “The people were afraid, and we told them not to breathe.”
“The children all stayed home, and the money, it got tight / It was hard to be alone, like a war without a fight,” she continues weaving through the year’s emotional turmoil. “Ooo, we had to share our lives / Through little screens / With tired eyes.”
Theo & Brenna are skilled on banjo, piano, fiddle, and guitar, collectively, drawing upon such influences as Emmylou Harris, Bill Monroe, Willie Nelson, and Glen Campbell. Two of 12 children, a family packed with creatives, they are undeniably steeped in tradition. Their experiences, from studying at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky to playing various gigs around Nashville, inform their knack of bluessgrass-decorated melodies and structures. After performing in the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble, the pair stepped out as a duo and issued their debut EP, When You Go, in 2018.
Watch the lyric video below.