Gold pants, red hair, and a Kevin Durant jersey are the first things that catch your eye at a Warren Dunes show. You might compare the power trio on stage to what it may look like if the summer camp counselors started a band, and wonder if maybe you weren’t at a rock show. Then lead singer, Julia Massey, begins to thank everyone in the crowd for coming, and each person starts looking around because they could have sworn she was talking directly to them. The band starts to play and you notice that Massey is spread-eagle between two keyboards, brothers Jared and Dominic Cortese are all smiles in anticipation of what’s to come, and an arresting crystalline voice begins to trumpet above a palette of tropicalia infused art rock. Your problems and worries melt away, people are dancing, some are crying, there are neon palm trees on the stage, and for the next hour you feel like you are under the warm sun on a tropical postmodern beach somewhere far away. The world is ok.
On Get Well Soon, Warren Dunes’ debut LP, Julia, Jared, and Dominic want to bottle up that experience from their live shows, and do their part in the healing process.
“We named the album Get Well Soon because we wanted this record to be like a Hallmark card to everyone who lived through 2020,” says guitarist and Massey’s husband Jared Cortese. Drummer Dominic and Jared’s brother adds “we all just lived through some crazy shit, and we wrote an album that we hope acknowledges all we’ve been through, and helps people move forward.” Creating a soundtrack that drives you back to the present moment is one of Massey’s central goals, who has been cultivating this technique ever since an early event with death led her to the path of songwriting. After losing her father to cancer at fifteen, Massey developed a way of making sense out of chaos. “When I lost my Dad the only things that really made a difference were comforting words from friends and family, and music.”
Get Well Soon slides seamlessly through anthemic choruses, introspective ballads, and meditative chants that follow an arc of danceable beats and grooves you can sink your teeth into. On “Quit Takin A Side,” Massey implores, “listen to the feelings in between every single thought floating in your head/hear what is there instead.” On “Be Good,” one of the record’s more pertinent tracks, Massey asks “why would you be good to someone who’s bad to you/to somebody whose job it is to be good to you?” but leaves the answer open. This offering of contemplative lyrics that require self-reflection on the part of the audience pervades the record, and creates a conversation between the listener and the band, eloquently avoiding the pitfalls of tackling sensitive subjects head on. This is Massey’s superpower.
Brothers Jared and Dominic Cortese spent their youth running through the shifting sands of Warren Dunes State Park in Southwest Michigan. Drawn together by their shared love of music, Julia Massey and the Cortese brothers decided to form a true family band, and the name came easy. With a reputation for bringing their audience to tears and guaranteed hugs after a performance, not being in the same room with their fans has been burdensome for Warren Dunes. Get Well Soon, which includes the band’s 2020 single “Fishbowl” (#18 on NACC and KEXP’s Song of the Day), is the band’s offering of love, hope, and healing for Dunesfolk of the past, present, and future.
Look for Get Well Soon everywhere on March 19th 2021.