Viv & Riley are rooted in traditional folk but are pushing the boundaries of what that means. Drawing inspiration from the robust music scene in Durham, NC, the duo wax poetic about quiet moments and the small sparkles of beauty we find in our lives that keep us going. The duo take the road this fall to share their new album, Imaginary People, released September 15, 2023, on Free Dirt Records. Rolling Stones Country says the duo “Shines a light on the past without giving up its place in the present”. They've been touring as a duo for the past 5 years, releasing two critically acclaimed albums on FreeDirt Records. They have played notable stages such as Red Wing Roots, Sisters Folk Festival / Song Academy, and Pickathon in 2022, and have recently opened for the duo Watchhouse (formerly Mandolin Orange).
—Rolling Stone Country
A bittersweet nostalgia lies at the heart of Imaginary People, the new album from Viv & Riley, coming September 15, 2023, on Free Dirt Records. Over ten tracks, the pair applies an indie roots sheen to newly composed pop gems. Rooted originally in the folk tradition, the pair reframe the production into experimental territory, crafting songs that speak to finding a path forward into adulthood in an uncertain world. Gifted songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno’s first album under the name Viv & Riley is a subtle masterpiece of thought and reflection. The album brings a reflectiveness to summertime jams that speak of uninhibited joy and creative camaraderie. Coming on the heels of their acclaimed earlier albums that showed preternaturally talented songwriting from such young artists, now the songs have caught up with their lives. Now in their mid-20s, the two are building a life together, creating a supportive community, and looking back on everything they’ve been through. Based out of Durham, North Carolina, they’ve tapped into the area’s eclectic and collaborative music scene, recruiting Alex Bingham of Hiss Golden Messenger to produce the album. Bingham brings a sunny, lush sound to Viv & Riley’s music, moving beyond their earlier country roots and toward a layered sound and sonic experimentation. The songwriting has evolved as well, from the world-weary, stripped-down country songs they’re known for to indie songwriting at turns sweetly sad and gently sardonic. Ultimately, Imaginary People is about carrying and honoring our pasts, about letting that inform our new steps forward. No matter how much we might cling to where we are, sometimes we need to uproot and take a leap of faith, to open ourselves up to new experiences and ideas in order to grow and blossom. As much as Imaginary People looks back to nostalgic yesteryears, it importantly marks the beginning of a new direction for these two master songwriters.