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Banded Starling and The Promise is Hope


The Promise is Hope

“A match made in heaven” may be fanciful, but the blended musicality of Ashley and Eric L’Esperance comes close to validating this old saying. The pair first felt the electricity of their undeniable chemistry at an impromptu song swap. A year and a half later they were married and released their debut album Where We’ve Been & Where We’re Going. Jessica Phaneuf, MVY Radio, said “I listen to A LOT of music, and this [album] would be at the top of the pile”and Sound of Boston said the set “offers something for romantics and realists alike.” In the years following this release, The Promise is Hope began to earn their place among New England’s finest emerging acts, with a live performance that is often described as beautifully moving, inspired, and connected. They were invited to perform at Club Passim’s 2016 & 2018 Campfire Festival, the 2017 Connecticut Folk Festival, and the 2018 Hungtington Folk Festival; and have shared the stage with renowned folk artists such as Amy Speace, Antje Duvekot, Parsonfield, The Mallet Brothers, and Gaelynn Lea among many others.

Their music marries two distinctly talented songwriters whose sound is shaped by tastes of folk, acoustic and pop. Ashley performs subtle yet stunning melodies with a classically-trained, but often folksy voice. Her poetic lyrics explore the deep mysteries within nature and human relationship. Eric’s obvious reverence for the beloved songwriters of the 60’s and 70’s shines through his sweetly deep voice. His prose-like lyrics unravel the joys and struggles of life’s journeys, and take what appears to be freeform and make it flow beautifully into well-crafted pieces. Together, the two artists complement each other in every respect. PopMatters says, “It is folk music, but folk that doesn’t find any quick or easy comparisons. Instead, it might besaid that the L’Esperance’s have found their unique path within the storied tradition.” Red Line Roots says “I am awestruck with the harmonies that Ashley & Eric L’Esperance are able to blend and spin together. Truly beautiful and moving…”

The Promise is Hope’s debut was a joyful record, but in a two-year span following its release the two lost four family members to tragic deaths in quick succession. With hearts reeling from personal tragedy, the couple turned to songwriting to work out their grief and lingering questions. This cathartic process resulted in the duo’s sophomore album, Every Seed Must Die, a stunning collection of tracks that are a testament to the trials of the human spirit. The album is unique for its intimate and restrained production. The delicate nature of the subject matter is explored through rich, heartfelt vocals laid over a soft quilt of finger-picked guitars, piano, cello, and Mellotron. The retro-inspired vibe is soul-soothing; listening to Ashley and Eric’s delicately intertwined voices is an experience any lover of fine harmonies will appreciate. No Depression declares, “The songwriting on this album is exceptional…I come away from many of these [songs] cleansed.”

Every Seed Must Die was created to weather a slate of life’s toughest moments, and that has become a driving force of The Promise Is Hope: to make music that helps others work through stormy seasons and see a way forward. The songs are being met with positive critical reception. Mother Church Pew says “With spare,acoustic instrumentation enhanced by crisp and focused production, the pair’s delicate harmonies are allowed to soar,a testament to their true musical talent;” and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society has called the album“breathtakingly stunning.”

Banded Starling

Blending the rawness of the human experience with a playfulness and innocence, Banded Starling engages its listeners with their authenticity and capturing music. The duo developed their alternative folk-pop sound after over 10 years of playing together in bands throughout New England. Banded Starling creates introspective and multifaceted music described by Divide and Conquer as "elegantly shaped and well crafted folk" with an alternative twist.

The decade-long friendship between Priscilla Bel and Pete Wason sparked a musical collaboration that is as rich with harmonies as it is with meaning. After playing together in various bands and touring the New England area, the two friends sought out a way to create music that expressed their own creative styles. In May of 2017, the two released a self-recorded EP called Sink In. They entered the doors of Plaid Dog Recording in December of 2017 to record a single called "Isabel" now available for streaming on YouTube.

Priscilla's songwriting is influenced by tastes of folk, electronic, acoustic, alternative, and pop. Her voice carries sweet and unconventional melodies with an underlying power and rawness. Her poetic lyrics plant poignant metaphors reflecting spirituality, the human experience, and human relationships. Pete, principally a drummer, grew up listening to the great rock bands of the 70s and 80s hair bands. He states influences such as Muse, The Police, and Bastille when adding his touches to Banded Starling's sound. Together, they create multifaceted music, at times poignant, at times heart-thumping, and almost always fun. Their hope is that their music energizes, moves, and inspires their listeners to enjoy the full experience of life.