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Sons of Sylvia keep it in the family

Story by Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
SoundSpike Contributor
Published August 19, 2010 02:57 AM

One could say that talent runs in the Clark family. Brothers Ashley, Austin and Adam, who perform collectively as Sons of Sylvia, won Fox's "Next Great American Band" contest in 2007 as the Clark Brothers. And successful songwriter Ryan Tedder, of OneRepublic fame, is a cousin.

All three members of the band -- which previously performed under the name the Clark Family Experience -- are well-regarded musicians. Lap steel and dobro player Austin Clark played on the Carrie Underwood track "Play On." Lead vocalist Ashley played fiddle and sang background for Underwood, with whom Sons of Sylvia will tour through December. Mandolin player Adam toured with SheDaisy.

Sons of Sylvia are on the road in support of "Revelation," which was released April 27 and debuted at No. 33 on The Billboard 200 album chart with close to 13,000 units sold. The first single, the Tedder-penned "Love Left to Lose," is climbing the Hot AC radio chart.

"Ryan's just a songwriting genius," Clark said. "It's basically one of those songs that wrote itself. It took about an hour. I think every once in awhile you have those songs that just feels so right it just pops out.

"But [Tedder is] amazing. It's just weird that he's family. I respect him as a professional as well. It's really cool to be able to work with your family."

Ashley Clark and Tedder are particularly close, so it was obvious the songwriting process was going to come easy for them.

"My brother Ashley and [Tedder] had an apartment together," he said. "They would play music all the time. They would talk about music and dream about music. They lived and breathed music. It's been a journey, for sure."

One thing that has been said about "Revelation" is that it defies genres. For example, "Love Left to Lose" straddles the boundaries of country and pop.

"When we started making this record, that was always the question, 'What genre is this?'" he said. "That was always the question but we never worried about it. We just kept going forward and making music we believed in and felt. We just kind of let people put it wherever they think it needs to go. We're not really worried about what it sounds like."

"Revelation" was recorded differently than previous efforts with Clark's family. The trio was able to create the sound and write most of the effort on its own.

"Thankfully, too, we got to work with a lot of amazing producers," Clark said. "It was like a dream come true. We wrote all these songs. When you actually get into recording them, when they start taking a life of their own on, it really inspires you. At the end of the day when the track's done, you can just push play and listen to it, and it gives you a sense of pride. It's a rewarding process for sure."