“Folk that makes you feel stuff” is exactly what Ash & Eric L’Esperance (spouses & band mates) set out to create through their collaborative project, The Promise is Hope. Their music marries two distinctly talented songwriters whose sound draws from the deep and vast well of the roots music tradition. Ashley’s airy and intoxicating tone (think Alison Krauss) blends beautifully with Eric’s sweet, deep voice (think Cat Stevens). The two artists complement each other in every respect, as with one voice they take their listeners on an exploration of the deep mysteries within nature and human relationships. With tightly woven harmonies, two acoustic guitars, and intimate songwriting, the pair presents a beautifully moving, inspired & connected live set. PopMatters says, “It is folk music, but folk that doesn’t find any quick or easy comparisons. Instead, it might be said that the L’Esperances have found their unique path within the storied tradition.”
The duo met while playing music at a local faith community in their home-city. They were initially drawn together as friends who shared an appreciation for honest well-crafted lyrics, subtle dynamics, and acoustic guitars. Their natural chemistry was undeniable to both them and others in the room when they first performed a cover of Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Though the take was completely spontaneous, Eric recalls feeling an energy as their voices blended effortlessly over a finger picked guitar. They both agreed that they had stumbled upon a rare connection, and were eager to begin exploring ways they might work together. It wasn’t quite love at first song, but it wouldn’t be long before Ash and Eric were committed both to a relationship and a musical partnership. They wrote their first album while planning a wedding, and released their debut album, Where We’ve Been & Where We’re Going, in 2015 — six months after they married under the name The Promise is Hope.
In the years following this release, the L’Esperances began touring the Northeast, honing their songs and presentation, building their community, and meeting folks who were excited to call themselves fans and supporters. In this season, they won several local music awards, being recognized for their excellence as artists emerging in the New England scene.
In 2017, Ash and Eric began writing their sophomore album. Wrestling with the loss of several family members in close proximity, alongside the collapse of their faith community, the two knew the best way to channel their grief was through music. Out of this cathartic process new songs began to formulate, alongside a vision for a stripped down, raw, and honest album. In late 2018, in the season of dwindling daylight and snow, Every Seed Must Die, was recorded at Old Bear Studio in Batavia, NY the week before Christmas. Ash and Eric were grateful to work with producer Chris Hoisington who helped them compile a stunning collection of tracks that are unique for their intimate and restrained production. The delicate nature of the subject matter is explored through rich, heartfelt vocals laid over a soft quilt of finger-picked guitars, piano, cello, and Mellotron. The retro-inspired vibe is soul-soothing; listening to Ashley and Eric’s delicately intertwined voices is an experience any lover of fine harmonies will appreciate.
The production and release of Every Seed Must Die was fully funded by The Promise is Hope’s dedicated and beloved fan base. Their sophomore album was met with positive critical reception. Mother Church Pew says “With spare,acoustic instrumentation enhanced by crisp and focused production, the pair’s delicate harmonies are allowed to soar,a testament to their true musical talent;” and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society has called the album“breathtakingly stunning.” No Depression declared, “The songwriting on this album is exceptional…I come away from many of these [songs] cleansed.”
Summer through winter 2019 saw the duo heavily touring their new songs to receptive and grateful rooms in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. In spring 2019, the pair have invited fans to join them on Patreon, where they are currently releasing two self-produced vlog series. “Beyond the Song” captures candid conversations between Ash and Eric inspired by the songs released on Every Seed Must Die. “The Ketchup” is a monthly, behind-the-scenes documentation of their life as a touring married couple. Their growing Patreon support will help fund the songwriting process for their anticipated third album, which they hope to release late 2020.