After trading in palm trees and ocean waves for desert sunsets and mountain peaks, Flagship Romance is coming full circle with new music and two hometown shows to celebrate the release of their new album “Concentric.” The husband and wife duo Shawn Fisher and Jordyn Jackson will perform two shows held March 22-23 at Blue Jay Listening Room in Jacksonville Beach before launching an 8-month tour in support of the record.
And what better way to send new music out into the universe than sharing it with the family, friends and fans who helped make it all possible?
“We are so excited we can’t even contain ourselves. We’ve only played two of the songs in front of an audience, so it’s really brand new, and we love the Blue Jay. It’s the perfect venue,” says Jackson. “Our music family in Florida has been so supportive. Every project we release, every Kickstarter we do, they just have our backs. They’re the reason we’re in the place that we are.”
“Concentric” evolved from the notion of concentric circles, linking family and friends and strangers and neighbors togeth er in a communal humanity. “Now more than ever in this era of feeling like you don’t know your fellow man or feel divided–sometimes from people you love–we feel this idea of concentric circles is really important,” Fisher explains.
“We all share this center of life and acceptance and pure love, and we want that to permeate as something that is felt throughout the whole record. It all centers around this idea that we’re all human and we can all relate to each other on a core soul level.”
Plans for the album were well underway before they set up camp in an 80-year adobe home that echoes the charm and character of their adopted hometown of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The record was conceived while Flagship Romance was releasing of “Tales from the Self Help Section,” which was funded through a very successful Kickstarter campaign. So successful, in fact, that they increased the goal which they quickly met.
“So we added a super, duper stretch goal, and said if we pass this amount, we’ll just record another record at the end of our tour. And when we hit that it was like ‘okay, I guess we’re recording another record. Let’s do it’,” recalls Fisher. “2017 was like a year of like really weird universal coincidences, like even outside of discovering our hometown.”
When the couple first visited the sleepy little town with a population of 6,000, there was an undeniable energy shift. It was a universal pull that was getting harder to ignore. Everything circled back to Truth or Consequences.
“Over the years touring, every time we’d pass through New Mexico there was just something about it that we just loved. A few years ago, a show of ours canceled in Phoenix, Arizona, and so we had an extra day in between two shows. We asked the people we were with what we should do. They said to go and soak in the hot springs in New Mexico,” says Jackson. “We were like, ‘What is that?’ and ‘Absolutely, we’re doing that.’ They are super healing. There is a whole lot of folklore surrounding them. It’s just a really spiritual place.”
The following year, Flagship Romance spent a couple days in New Mexico during their Honeymoon Tour. And once again, the hot springs proved to be a magical, life affirming experience. They could feel it on their skin.
The universe is always spinning, and if you’re lucky it can land like a game show wheel at just the right place. Last year, another show originally planned for a venue in the mountains was relocated to Truth or Consequences.
“We didn’t even realize there was any place to even play music here because it’s such a teeny tiny town,” says Jackson. “Turns out there was a brewery that had just opened up, so we played there and met some amazing people. It was just like this light switch went off.”
The couple learned of another duo who had recently relocated from Oregon to TOC and they couldn’t imagine why anyone would leave a big city like Portland for a tiny desert town. Turns out, they’d made their way into the other duo’s radar as well, and, of course, they met up and became fast friends. They would also guide Fisher and Jackson to a funky little adobe house in the desert, once owned by an artist.
“We kind of realized the universe kept bringing us back to this specific location,” says Fisher. They were drawn to the home’s eclectic touches, the charm of the city and the warm and welcoming nature of the community. “We walked in and 10 seconds in this house, we knew we’d be genuinely devastated if somebody else got this house. This is our house. It was a no-brainer, but the scariest thing at the same time. This whole process, this whole record was just about letting go.”
The duo had just finished recording “Tales” with the prospect of recording the new album in California. The goal was five songs and a completely different kind of sound. Fisher reached out to the producer and was dismayed to learn he was already committed to another project. As it turned out, the universe had other plans.
“We were like ‘Oh my gosh, we just told our fans that we were going to record this album,’ so we were freaking out. That same day, one of our best friends that we’ve known longer than Jordyn and I have known each other called us, and we told him the whole situation,” recalls Fisher. “He just went, ‘Great because this means you’re going to record your record with me, and we’re going to go to a place called The Sonic Ranch in the middle of nowhere and make the best record you’ve ever made.’ When he said that, it was just an immediate letting go. That was the catalyst for the project.”
Lee Miles, who produced Fisher’s first record when he was 15 and worked with Jackson on a project when she was just 18, helped guide the material that would become “Concentric.” With the logistics of the project were finalized, they still had to write the songs to build an album. While “Tales” was written over the course of two years, “Concentric” came together in just six months.
“Three months in, and my anxiety is just freaking out over not having any songs, but I said, ‘You know what? I’m letting go and whatever happens happens.’ After that, Jordyn and I both had huge bouts of creativity, and we were able to get songs written,” Fisher says. “We wrote songs on the West Coast with Lee over many bottles of bourbon, and it was just a joyful process to create with one of our best friends with no ego involved, and create the most universally acceptable kind of songs we could come up with. Each one of them has a story about the road or people we met or news stories that we heard.”
“Julie Wants to go to War” is a haunting song about the military transgender ban. Fisher says when they heard the news on NPR, they knew it would be painful, but it was a song they needed to write. “Crossroads” echoes the disconnect of losing your identity and living through the motions against a gentle piano rain.
“His Town” is colored with twangy vibe and the hopeful rediscovery of blue skies and solid ground. It’s also a love letter to their adopted hometown.
“There’s a God, and He’s all around, this must be His town.”
Flagship Romance is right at home in Truth or Consequences amongst the art galleries, coffee shops, mountain trails with clusters of crystals, alternative healers, the hotsprings and a lovely community of people. When the chair of the Santa Fe Film Festival stumbled on a holiday show Flagship Romance staged last December, she was so enamoured with the music that she encouraged the couple to submit a video to the festival. The video for “His Town”was awarded Best Music Video and was honored at a recent screening.
“We were thinking about video concepts and we thought this video is Truth or Consequences, all of it. Let’s just feature the town. There was something really cool to be able to make a music video featuring this place and some of the really gorgeous souls that live here and to have it recognized on a state level, there’s a real bubbling up of interest in this area. It’s something that we’re really proud of.”
“They call this town the friendliest town in the southwest, and it’s true. The people here are so open and so loving. Any time we put on a concert or need extras for a video, the town just genuinely comes out. They support art, they support music, and they support people that are trying to make this area better place. It’s really exciting. There’s an energy here.”
It’s an energy they will miss when Flagship Romance hits the road for an eight-month, cross country adventure. But first, they will return home to Jacksonville where they will share the new music with their hometown an audience for the first time. The album release shows will mark the couple’s first time home to Jacksonville since last May.
For Fisher, he’s looking forward to hugging his mom, catching up with friends and eating some fresh, Florida seafood before embarking on the tour. It will be a long journey, full of twists and turns, but Flagship Romance remains connected to place it all began. “I know it’s cliched, but no matter where we go, living in a completely different state in a completely different area of the country, Florida is always going to be home.”