Although it's not officially on the market, Gypsy Soul's "best album yet" — "The World Is My Country" — will be available to fans this week at the duo's benefit concerts.
Jacksonville couple Cilette Swann and Roman Morykit will preview the album and play holiday favorites for their 12th annual WinterSpring Benefit concerts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21-22, at the Unitarian Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Gypsy Soul will play Friday as a duo and Saturday as a band with percussionist Jason "Cedar" Miller, multi-instrumentalist Mikey Stevens and guitarist Dirk Price.
Who: Gypsy Soul
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 21-22
Where: Unitarian Fellowship, 87 Fourth St., Ashland
Tickets: $18 in advance, $22 at the door
The title of the album, to be released March 22, was proposed by Ashland author and motivational speaker Rick Kirschner and is an excerpt from Thomas Paine's famous quote: "The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good is my religion."
Morykit and Swann say the title set the framework for the lyrical content of the CD, which, in short, is about how we to choose live in the world.
However, the title doesn't keep the pair from exploring a variety of sounds and styles.
"The album almost sounds like a playlist," Morykit says. "It's the same band, but we dance around a lot of different genres, but there's still our distinctive way of playing and singing that carries through."
One song, "You," is dedicated to Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, an inspiration "to oppressed people all over the world," and features, simply, acoustic guitar and vocals.
"It didn't need more than that because the message is very clear," Swann says.
Other songs, such as "Soul of the Girl," came out blues; "Always Being You" is a rocking, alt-country song with a full band; and "Fire Dancers" is a "chill," electronica instrumental.
"We've always done diverse-sounding records, but I don't think we've ever stretched ourselves so much," Swann says.
"I think this is our best record yet," Morykit adds. "I know every band says that when they record a new album, but I really feel we expanded on this record lyrically, musically and certainly productionwise, for me."
Tickets cost $18 in advance and $22 at the door. Advance tickets are available at Music Coop in Ashland and Willow Creek in Jacksonville. A portion of proceeds will benefit WinterSpring, a local nonprofit dedicated to counseling people suffering grief and loss.
While hunger and poverty are more commonly addressed issues during the holidays, grief is just as widespread, Swann says.
"There's something about grief that is not talked about in our culture as much as it ought to be," she says.
"Especially at this time of year," Morykit says. "Not everyone is jolly, jolly, jolly. All of us deal with grief at some point in our lives, and WinterSpring was extremely helpful when Cilette lost her father 10 years ago."