They say that wisdom comes with age. But rising trio Temecula Road are a bit ahead of the game.
Already seasoned country vets and still filled with the unbridled enthusiasm of a breakout act, sisters Emma and Maddie Salute and their musical brother Dawson Anderson have grown out of artistic adolescence, and into the next chapter. With an initial blast of excitement and accolades behind them, they’ve done the work it takes to find themselves creatively, and it shows in a big way with their new batch of tunes.
“It was a defining moment when we figured out that we are totally in the driver’s seat,” Dawson explains, now looking back on the group’s coming of age. “We can steer this thing and it’s our career … and you can feel that in the music.”
Founded in 2014 in their hometown of Temecula, California, the trio were first brought together by a vocal coach who sensed their potential. Discovering a shared love of country and a natural harmonic bond, the sum immediately became greater than its parts.
Within two years they had signed with Disney Music Group’s Buena Vista Records and began sharing their rich vocal blend on irresistible covers of hit songs, earning praise from stars like Carrie Underwood, Dan + Shay, Brett Eldredge and more. They were called out by The Huffington Postand Radio Disney as artists to watch and hit the road with legends like Martina McBride and Sara Evans, among others, then turned the spotlight on themselves. Releasing three original singles in 2017, “Everything Without You,” “Hoping” and “What If I Kissed You” have so far garnered more than 5 million streams on Spotify alone.
But that first tease of original music was just that – a tease. They were perfect for the moment, fresh feeling yet traditionally minded, polished smooth and purpose built to introduce an unknown group of deserving talents. But if they’re honest, the band say those songs were also a little tentative, a byproduct of youth. Now, though, after taking a year off to discover themselves, things are different.
“We’ve grown up personally and musically,” Maddie (18) explains. “We love our first three songs, but now we’ve matured, and our music has grown up with us.”
“It’s not that we weren’t strong before,” Emma (20) agrees, “but we weren’t experienced enough to stand up for what we wanted to sound like.”
“Now we’re completely involved in the process,” Dawson (19) adds. “Whether it’s the writing or production or even the way we sound live, it’s us.”
Over four new tracks produced by Andrew DeRoberts (James Blunt, Max Embers), Temecula Road’s new route ahead is still based on locked-in harmonies and a love of country song craft – but it’s far bolder and fearlessly personal. Trading sonic perfection for character, the trio freely experiment with first-take recording and unorthodox techniques (like using an iPhone to ad lib final vocals), all while mixing influence from Top 40 pop, R&B, EDM and everything in between.
“I think sonically and lyrically, they’re exactly what we wanted,” says Dawson, who co-wrote three of four new tracks. “By the end of 2018 we were ready to say, ‘This is where we want to take these songs, this is the direction we want to go.’”
“I also think with being so hands-on, you’re more comfortable,” Emma notes. “When you’re more comfortable you’re also more vulnerable, and that’s huge.”
Striking out with the dark country pop of “Fades,” a bass-driven anthem imagined from the wrong side of a breakup, drum machines and tasteful electronics bring the trio to country’s cutting edge. With its complex emotional tenor illustrating the group’s progress, the track was co-written by Dawson with Kevin Bard and Mike Daly. “Everything eventually fades, whether it’s the color on a car or your jeans or a T-shirt,” he explains. “So why isn’t this memory of us fading?”
“Everything I Love” pumps out romantic heat, with stacked harmonies burning through sunset sonics for a gotta-have-you blast of passion. Maddie and Dawson trade vivid, cinematic verses, written by hit makers Jordan Reynolds, Nicolle Galyon, Daly and Ross Copperman. “I love the song because it’s a cheesy love song that’s not cheesy at all,” Dawson says. “It’s a super cool way of expressing your emotions – ‘Like a window seat cutting through the clouds.’”
Meanwhile, “Maybe Not” flashes the band’s flirtatious pulse, willing to take a chance on love but keeping one foot out the door, just in case. Pairing drum machines and dobros with a he-said-she-said vocal that feels caught in a perpetual 2 a.m. haze, Maddie says it’s built to keep listeners guessing. “When we were in the studio our producer asked if it was a happy song or a sad one, and we were like ‘Huh. Let’s figure that out,’” she says with a laugh. “It can go either way.”
But there’s no misinterpreting “Never Knew I Needed You.” Written by Dawson with Ben Goldsmith and Lindsay Rimes, it’s a cloud-nine, heart-on-the-sleeve confession of true love – the kind that’s only true after it’s been tested. “Love always finds you when you’re not looking for it,” Maddie explains, hinting at the parallels between that message and the band’s own experience.
“Our 2018 was huge,” Dawson agrees. “We didn’t release any music, but we were writing a lot, becoming closer as friends and really bonding – just growing up. We were strengthening our foundation, because we love each other and we’ll need each other on this journey, and I hope if you listen, you’ll feel it.”
That’s the mark of a group who are finally comfortable in their own skin, and they’ve earned it. Now based in Nashville and poised for the next step, the “road” ahead is wide open.