Ten years ago, Rebekah and Gabriel Craft of married folk-rock duo Linen Ray found themselves living parallel lives as musicians. At night, while Gabriel was out gigging as an in-demand pro drummer, Rebekah would compose songs in the privacy of their bedroom. Each didn’t realize their romantic life partner was also their musical soul mate. Coming together, the two shed fears and discovered untapped artistic potential.
Today, Linen Ray has emerged a powerhouse roots-y pop-rock band. Freshly inspired after relocating to Nashville, the twosome is now poised to release a pair of milestone albums. In early 2020, Linen Ray will issue Live At The Ark, a live keepsake from its transcendent show at the famed Ann Arbor nationally-known folk and acoustic venue the Ark. Following this, Linen Ray will track its sophomore studio album, On The Mend, overseen by British producer Patrick Jordan (Young Rebel Set, Cattle & Cane, Matt Wilde).
“We have a story to share, and we’re hoping that we’ll help others through our music,” Rebekah says. “Our songs are vulnerable and thought-provoking, and they take the listener through a journey of healing and recovery.”
Linen Ray features Rebekah’s pristine and soul-tinged vocals upfront, ably backed by Gabriel’s subtly dexterous drums, conjuring the pocket and clever syncopations of Mick Fleetwood. The pair fill out the sound with ace musicians playing nuanced and intuitively, letting the songs and Rebekah’s vocals luxuriate in sympathetic and restrained musicality.
Lyrically, Linen Ray write with raw candor but always nestle messages of hope in its stirring songs. “We write about our personal and life experiences. We do a lot of soul-searching while we write, and we want to be as transparent as possible,” Rebekah says.
The group’s name is a playful amalgamation of the couple’s middle names, Lynn and Ray. Musically, Linen Ray pulls influences from 1970s Laurel Canyon folk-pop, 1960s and 1970s rock, alt-country and traditional country, and gospel.
The pair’s classic and contemporary folk-pop perspective conjures an array of comparisons, including Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Joni Mitchell, Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Neko Case, and Jenny Lewis, among others.
To date, Linen Ray has released an album and an EP. Along the way, career highlights include performances at the Ann Arbor Ark, Lightning 100 Nashville, and the Hard Rock Café Chicago, and raising $8,000 via Kickstarter to fund their debut album.
Rebekah and Gabriel have been married for 16 years, and met at work when Rebekah was Gabriel’s boss. Up until then, the two had divergent paths in music. Rebekah grew up with a family of musicians, and she got her start singing in the church where her father was a pastor of a multi-cultural congregation. There, she was exposed to black gospel, traditional hymns, Southern gospel, and Contemporary Christian.
“When I would sing in church as a child, I would notice people really responding. I knew then that I must be willing to share what I have with others,” she recalls.
Early on, Rebekah pursued music in Nashville, saving up during her the year working in Michigan to spend her summers in Music City. During this formative time in her life, Rebekah released two solo EPs. Yet, through it all, she always battled fears and stage fright.
Prior to meeting Rebekah, Gabriel founded, recorded, co-wrote music, and toured with the popular trip-hop band Cloud Nine Music. He has also been a lifelong musician, rising the ranks from garage rock to embrace an eclectic array of genres, including heavy metal, world music, fusion, reggae, hip-hop, jazz, and odd-meter prog rock.
“I experienced a lot of heartache as a child, and music was a way for me to release my feelings,” he shares.
After marriage and having two kids, Gabriel remained active as a drummer, but Rebekah found herself a little lost, and left music behind. “I decided to get a full-time job, and be this family lady,” Rebekah says, laughing playfully.
It was her brother who jolted her out of her suburban slumber. “He believed in me doing music—and he believed in Gabriel, too. He reminded me never to forget what I had inside,” she says. Rebekah’s brother encouraged her to take songwriting classes at a nearby college, and Rebekah asked Gabriel to join her on the journey.
One fateful day when the couple was struggling in the wake of the 2009 market crash where they lost almost everything, Rebekah went to the grocery store. When she returned, Gabriel had written the rousing and reflective country-tinged ballad “It’ll Take Time.”
Previously, Gabriel had never written lyrics nor had he played acoustic guitar, but his talents for arranging and humming ideas from behind the drum kit came to the forefront while taking that songwriter class.
In July 2018, Rebekah and Gabriel embarked on another adventure together when they relocated their family to Nashville. It was a bold move for a couple with two kids and a highly engaged local following from their comfy Michigan hometown.
There was a powerful pull to Nashville that transcended Music City’s vibrant scene. As a kid, Rebekah had spent time in Tennessee every Christmas on her grandfather’s farm.
Linen Ray has recently forged a powerful bond with UK-based producer Patrick Jordan through Rebekah singing backup vocals on his solo album. Patrick will return the favor producing Linen Ray in July of 2020. This album, On The Mend, is set to feature live-in-the studio performances, stripped down instrumentation, and some experimental touches. “Our next album’s theme is about personal healing in close relationships, finding balance, forgiveness, and spirituality,” Rebekah says.
Until then, fans can enjoy Linen Ray’s Live at the Ark album. The Ark is a famous venue Rebekah dreamed of playing when she was coming up. Linen Ray now has the honor to be included in the company of such artists as Nanci Griffith, Aimee Mann, Amos Lee, Brandi Carlisle, Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Shawn Colvin, among others. In the live album context, songs from Linen Ray’s EP and debut full-length breathe with delicate band interplay, deep-pocket grooves, dreamy harmony vocals, and sensual lead vocals.
Besides the joy of discovering their intuitive bond as musicians, for Gabriel and Rebekah the Linen Ray path has been meaningful in that it’s granted them access to deep connections with others. “People coming together over our songs is sacred to me,” says Gabriel. Rebekah concludes: “Music is this unbiased universal language that exchanges emotions between people. It’s a powerful gift.”