For River Whyless, Songwriting Is 'A Good Way To Wash The Soul'

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River Whyless' latest album is <em>We All The Light</em>.

River Whyless is a quartet from North Carolina. They make folk music, and also pull in threads from other genres and cultures. The two lead singers and songwriters, Halli Anderson and Ryan O'Keefe, have both had their own musical projects in the past, and say they're still exploring what it means to write for a band — especially when a song comes from a particularly emotional place.

"When I write a song, it's like putting it in a deposit box, or putting it in a vault of sorts," Anderson says. "Making these songs is sort of a freedom to dispose of anything that's just been tumbling around inside my soul. And so, being able to play them every night is a good way to wash the soul and get rid of the angst."

Anderson and O'Keefe spoke with NPR's Ari Shapiro about the personal backstory behind the songs "Blood Moon" and "Baby Brother," each of which sprouted from an event in their respective family lives. Hear their conversation at the audio link.

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A previous version of this story misspelled Halli Anderson's last name as Andersen.