Better Together

Annie and Dave Ducharme-Jones’ new album spotlights their American rock roots sound. Photographer: Ivory House Photography.

When the pandemic’s outbreak last year forced the cancellation of live music shows, Annie and Dave Ducharme-Jones headed into their home studio to focus on songwriting and recording. The result? “Unbroken,” the duo’s new album that, as of press time, was expected to be released this month.

Like their other two albums, “Unbroken” showcases the American roots rock sound that has gained the couple a strong fan base. Eight of the nine songs are originals, including the title track about patching yourself up after a breakup, and “On the Darkest Night,” which they wrote at the beginning of the pandemic “when everything was shut down and it felt like the world was coming together to support each other,” Annie says. Although she says that sense of togetherness faded, “unity was the inspiration for the song.”

The compelling song “Little Sins” explores the need to stand up to lying, greed, betrayal and gaslighting: “I don’t want to live like this. Another angel with broken wings. I’m gonna raise my fist, gonna resist, you and your little sins.”

Dave, who grew up in Des Moines, and Annie moved here in 2016, after living seven years in the San Francisco Bay Area and then nearly 30 in Austin, Texas. While Dave has been a professional musician his entire career, Annie started performing about 10 years ago. A native of West Okoboji, she had been writing songs and singing since childhood, but “I didn’t consider myself a professional [musician],” she says. “The idea of performing caused me sheer panic, which took the fun out of it.”

Instead, Annie worked as a psychotherapist and yoga instructor. But once their son left for college, “I rediscovered my love of songwriting and became more comfortable as a performer,” she says.

“When we got serious about performing together, her contribution gave an identifiable style and a consistency to our sound and writing,” Dave says.

Collaboration is a natural part of their creative process. Still, the teamwork is handled carefully. “There are those times when you know collaboration is going to be successful,” Dave says, “and other times when I realize I should step aside and let her pursue her vision. You sort of learn when to step back and when to step in.” For example, either of them may be stuck on a lyric or melody and the other will offer suggestions and “make something happen.”

Being married makes the process more comfortable, Dave says. “Collaborating with others, you’re always going to be a little bit on your guard. With us, we’re just throwing stuff out there.”

“Communication is key,” Annie adds. “There’s a certain amount of ego that goes into the creative process, and we try to respect that.”

Find “Unbroken” on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play or whatever your favorite audio platform is. You also can buy the CD through Amazon and the duo’s website.

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