Three years after the release of its debut album, Girls Underground, Oakland indie folk duo Eight Belles returns with a self-titled follow-up on Saint Rose Records, and we are beyond stoked to premiere it today. The band will celebrate the release with a performance at The Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco on Dec. 10 with Cave Clove and The Young Elders.

Singer Jessi Phillips, guitarist Henry Aloysius Nagle, and engineer Ross Harris (Emily Jane White) tracked the album over three years, enlisting a cadre of prominent Bay Area musicians including singer/ pianist Joel Robinow (Once and Future Band, Howlin’ Rain), drummer Shaun Lowecki (Painted Palms), bassist Jonathan Kirchner (Con Brio), and singer Katie Colver (Cave Clove). The result is a collection of highly personal material with more daring and ambitious arrangements than those on Girls Underground.

“I just expected more from myself lyrically this time around. I think with the first record I was just figuring out what I was doing. I’m really proud of the lyrics on this record,” says Phillips.

“The last record definitely had kind of a sonic theme to it, whereas this record is more of a collection of pop songs that are fairly independent of each other,” says Nagle. “We really approached each song individually, using the most appropriate players for each one.”

The songs may have a great deal of sonic variance, but they are joined by a common theme — the mining of the past for ideas of how to proceed in the future. The songs are born of time when Phillips was “ruminating over

[her] search for home and figuring out past relationships” that she felt she “needed to write to fully get over.”

“’The Right Light’ is about my struggles living here and wondering if there’s any place left in America that doesn’t feel totally discovered and pillaged by the wealthy and the hip,” says Phillips laughingly. “Everyone’s thinking about where they want to live. All my friends are talking about where the next place is especially as the Bay Area becomes an increasingly difficult place to live.”

“There are so many amazing musicians here who are managing to not just get by, but thrive and do a lot of cool things. I’ve got a community of friends I’m terrified to leave. But, what really has kept me here is just nature. That’s what inspires me. I just became a member of the volunteer mountain patrol at the Marin Headlands, and so I take a horse out once a week on these big hills and you can see all three bridges up there.”

“For a few weeks, I was working on a song with the line ‘My old life has become my whole life’,” says Phillips. “I never finished that song, but you could say that’s the central theme of the whole album.”

Americana duo Eight Belles was formed in 2010 when guitarist Henry Aloysius Nagle met singer-songwriter Jessi Phillips at a backyard party in Oakland, California where they were both performing. The pair creates music that stretches the boundaries of Americana and pays homage to a diverse range of influences including Fleetwood Mac, Harry Nilsson, and Roy Orbison.

Jessi Phillips is also a freelance journalist and author, currently working on a novel about a competitive mother/daughter musician duo.

Cave Clove, Eight Belles, Young Elders
The Rickshaw Stop
December 8, 2015
8pm, $10