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Megan Reilly

Megan Reilly hails from Memphis, Tennessee, where at age sixteen, she had already started writing, singing, and playing songs on her guitar. With its rich and tragic history, there’s a dark, mysterious quality to life in Memphis, and that history clearly found its way into Megan’s songs from the very start. At twenty-three, Reilly moved to New York City, and the teenage dreams and demons that fueled her earliest work had grown into more complicated ghosts. Reilly’s songs had grown, and when she sang them alone on a stage, accompanying herself on guitar, people listened closely and were intrigued. Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth was among Reilly’s early fans and supporters there, and he helped guide Megan through the New York music scene, including an important introduction to guitarist Tim Foljahn (Two Dollar Guitar, Cat Power). Soon her duo was rounded out to a full band of tremendous players—Steve Goulding (The Mekons) on drums, Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu) on bass, and Eric Morrison (Home) on piano. These were busy, talented people—all seasoned players with many other projects—and yet, attracted to the idea of gathering their unique talents around this equally unique voice, they all committed to Megan’s musical vision. The group recorded Megan’s first full-length release for Carrot Top Records, Arc of Tessa, which the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette declared “to one day be remembered as the unheralded gem of alternative-country 2003, a haunting collection of aching ballads.” Arc of Tessa was widely praised from Time Out New York and Maxim, to No Depression who cheered it as “drop-dead gorgeous...melancholy folk-pop of the highest order.”

In 2006, Megan teamed with producer Sue Garner for her second album, Let Your Ghost Go. Ghost garnered even more praise than Arc, and significantly raised her profile. The Dallas Observer said, “her songs [are] perhaps the most delightful combination of vulnerability and Southern grace you’ll hear this decade--and her voice--oh God, that voice…” Harp’s Brian Baker opined, “Reilly and her crack band give beauty and pain a palpable sonic presence...Another triumph.” Megan played a few shows nationally in Memphis, Chicago, and Dallas, but even as her profile grew, she mostly kept close to her current New York base. Then life intervened.

Now married, Megan Reilly had a child, moved to Philadelphia, back to New Jersey, learned to sew and bake, and became fully domesticated. "I was used to writing from a mournful place. Having a child and being in love filled me with such unfamiliar happiness that I didn't know how to write about it. So I learned how to quilt. I made eight quilts in five years.” In the musical interim, Foljahn departed and was replaced by a new elemental piece, virtuoso guitarist James Mastro (Health and Happiness Show, Patti Smith, Ian Hunter). Their bond was immediate, as if their musical talents were destined to augment each other. Megan finally began writing her third record. "I didn't want any more time to pass without making music so I booked the studio time in advance when I had only four songs written. Then I would tell people, 'I'm making a record soon,’ thinking that if I said it enough it would happen. And it did. I wrote whenever I could, so now I know that method works."

The resulting album, The Well, marks an enormous musical leap that mirrors the vast changes in Megan’s personal life since Ghost was written. The album title refers to the muse that lies deep within that propels the music. "Despite my fear that I had used up all my talent on my first two records and had nothing to offer, the best work I've ever done was lying dormant all along, waiting for me to pay attention." The Well is vast and deep, running from Memphis to New York. It's haunting and lovely. It's a breakout work. Lucky us.