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For over two decades, West Virginia songwriter Michael Iafrate has carefully developed his unique voice among regional artists, alongside and subsequent to his notable work as a member of some of the state’s most creative independent music acts such as The Minus Tide, COBRA, and Killed At Camp. His song-explorations are often enriched by his training as a theologian—asking more questions than providing answers, commingling the worlds of flesh and spirit, and holding received images and traditions up to the light in respect, playfulness, and negation.
Whether performed solo or with a full band, Iafrate’s songs reveal shifting shades of meaning and flexibility and offer the incense of devotion to such influences as Jason Molina, Will Oldham, Neil Young, classic R.E.M., Elliott Smith, Gillian Welch, Townes Van Zandt, Doug Paisley, and Elephant Micah. He has performed on stage with acts like Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co., Bonnie "Prince" Billy, The Anomoanon, Papa M, Brightblack Morning Light, and Matt Pond PA.
Following M Iafrate & The Priesthood’s 2005 full-length "O Happy Marriage" (his first with a full band), Iafrate released the 2011 solo EP "No Matter How Deep the Darkness, He Descends Deeper Still" and a number of singles and other tracks as he pursued the slow work of two new albums. On his latest full-length, "Christian Burial," Iafrate’s tried-and-true soft-spoken and contemplative tones are enhanced by the harder and more textured arrangements of his reassembled backing band, the Priesthood—Clint Sutton, Dallas Campbell, David Klug, and Sean Decker. Also on board are several special guests, kindred musical spirits called upon to flesh out more layered and complex arrangements—Josh Taylor on organ and piano, William Matheny on pedal steel guitar, Nate Musser on violins and upright bass, and backing vocalists Sarah Sigmon, Haley Slagle, and Hazel Iafrate.
A second full-length album, "Nonsubstantiation" (which was recorded largely alongside "Christian Burial"), will be released within a year’s time under Iafrate’s own name. Each record presents Iafrate’s introspective "theo-folk" through thoughtful and dignified arrangements and will solidify Iafrate’s place, in the words of one of the state’s most seasoned music veterans, as "West Virginia’s most esteemed hyper theologian."
"[Iafrate's] brand of roots music can do anything."
"West Virginia’s most esteemed hyper theologian."
"One of West Virginia’s most important musical players."
—Soft Rock Renegade
"[Iafrate’s songwriting] is a hypnotic testament to the complexity of life, love and religion, but even more so, it’s a testament to what a little well-crafted songwriting can do."
—Couches on Fire
"Deep, echoey, wooden tones, accompanied by some of the most intelligent lyrics about politics, love, and faith I’ve heard since Johnny Cash’s heyday."
—Couches on Fire
released May 26, 2017
Michael John Iafrate: vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, 12-string electric guitar, clawhammer banjo. Clint Sutton: electric guitars, backing vocals, drums on track 9. Dallas Campbell: electric bass. Sean Decker: backing vocals, 2nd electric guitar solo on track 1. David Klug: drums, percussion. Josh Taylor: organ, piano on track 3. William Matheny: pedal steel guitar on tracks 2, 3, and 7. Nate Musser: upright bass on tracks 4 and 9, violins on track 9. Haley Slagle: backing vocal on track 3. Sarah Sigmon: backing vocal on track 9. Hazel Iafrate: backing vocal on tracks 2 and 9, spoken word on track 9.
All songs written by Michael John Iafrate. Recorded in the nooks and crannies of 2011-2017 by David Klug at David Klug Studio in Pittsburgh, PA, except keyboard tracks, recorded by Josh Taylor in Wheeling, WV. Mixed and mastered by David Klug. Spoken word in “A Fall Headlong” excerpted from The Other Way to Listen by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall. Design by Liz Pavlovic. Cover concept by Michael Iafrate. Front cover photo by Karri Roberts. Interior photo by Jocelyn Carlson. Door photo by Michael Iafrate.
Thank you very much. Special thanks to Hazel Iafrate, Jocelyn Carlson, Dave Klug, Clint Sutton, Dallas Campbell, Sean Decker, Josh Taylor, William Matheny, Nate Musser, Sarah Sigmon, Haley Slagle, Mark Poole, Bob Heyer, Liz Pavlovic, Karri Roberts, Brian Spragg, Andrew and Patricia Croft, Tom Breiding, Tom Beaudoin, the Bridge+Tunnel Collective, Towngate Theatre, Angie Iafrate, Janet Iafrate, Andrew Iafrate, Shawn Iafrate, Janice Iafrate, Michael L. Iafrate, Luca Iafrate, all friends and family living and passed.
Wheeling, West Virginia
© 2017 Michael John Iafrate. All wrongs reconciled.