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Professor Nancy Andrews debuts pop album

In 1983, COA T.A. Cox Chair in Studio Arts Nancy Andrews and friend Linda Smith shared a big house in Baltimore with a continuously revolving cast of artists and musicians. It was there the like-minded artists formed their first band, Ceramic Madonna Head (with Plastic Arms), a short-lived project which included housemates Elizabeth Downing and Peggy Bitzer. By the time the lease was up, Linda and Peggy had decided to move to New York where they would form a new band called The Woods while Nancy and Elizabeth remained in Baltimore and formed a performance art band called Lambs Eat Ivy.

While playing guitar in The Woods in the mid-80s Linda purchased her first 4-track cassette recorder and embarked on a pioneering decade of solo, DIY home recording with a series of cassettes and 7” records of smart and moody singer-songwriter bedroom pop music. This trailblazing period was recently documented on the Captured Tracks retrospective compilation Till Another Time: 1988-1996. Her band, The Woods, made a record which was shelved for decades but will finally see release in 2023. During this same period Nancy pursued art, animation and filmmaking with occasional forays into music including another short-lived collaboration with Linda called The Gertrudes as well as a 7” under the alias Pinky on Harriet records in 1992. The friends stayed in touch but hadn’t worked on a project together in nearly thirty years.

In 2020, Linda rediscovered in the back of a drawer some old tapes of Nancy’s songs she had recorded for her in the 90s. In the process of digitizing the old recordings she was inspired to reach out and float the idea of a new collaborative recording project with her old friend. A Passing Cloud is the fruit of their rekindled long-distance musical conversation. They began the songwriting process by flipping through Nancy’s pulp fiction collection and pulling provocative phrases from the lurid titles and hard-boiled storylines. Then, they set out to create new stories from personal, feminist perspectives. All the songs were composed incrementally by passing tracks back and forth between Maine and Maryland during the late pandemic. A Passing Cloud’s lovely and beguiling pop music may be borne out of isolation but it draws us in with a carefully rendered intimacy made possible by decades of artistic collaboration. 

A Passing Cloud was co-produced by Nancy Andrews, Linda Smith, and COA audio visual technology specialist Zach Soares ’00 . It will be released March 17 and can be preordered here.