“Hearing The Foreign Landers for the first time immediately landed a huge smile on my face and for a moment allowed escape from all the negative noise in the world. Tabitha and David simply sound like two people who are meant to make music together. The playing, singing, and arrangements are all so wonderful—I’m a fan!”
- Sierra Hull
Mandolinist David Benedict grew up in South Carolina while Tabitha Agnew Benedict started playing 5-string banjo at a young age in her homeland of Northern Ireland. Today Tabitha and David are carving their own path in the acoustic music world together, drawing on their unique international heritage to create something new. With the 2022 release of their debut full-length album Travelers Rest, Transatlantic folk and bluegrass duo The Foreign Landers share their own story in a way that is beautifully honest and moving. Although it is their story, listeners will find much that resonates within themselves—fears in the face of uncertainties, a commitment to cling to hope, and a longing for home/a familiar place to rest—all presented in a unique musical experience that sparks curiosity and joy, and showcases a love that unites across borders.
Named after their new hometown of Travelers Rest, SC, this album is an artistic rendering of their journey moving across the Atlantic in the face of many challenges. The record opens with the nostalgic track “Traveler,” a progressive bluegrass piece written from the perspective of Tabitha’s parents in Northern Ireland. “Waves” (track 2) and “We’ll Be Fine” (track 6) bring a sensitive Americana flavor to the album while still expressing the strong emotions of fear and confusion faced while awaiting Tabitha’s Green Card in the midst of the pandemic. Tabitha’s Ulster heritage shines through on the delightfully indecisive duet “Should I Go” (track 3), the exciting, modern Celtic instrumental medley “Johnny’s Peacock/The Red-Tailed Hawk” (track 4), and a bittersweet requiem for moving house in “Boxes” (track 7). However the two make a heavy nod to their bluegrass roots with “Flying Back to You” (track 5), a song about David’s misadventure flying across the Atlantic twice in one day to get back to Tabitha in Northern Ireland before international borders closed at the beginning of Covid-19, as well as a
thoughtful reimagining of the Jimmy Martin bluegrass standard “Sunny Side of the Mountain” (track 8). The album ends resolute with the quiet determination of “Garden” (track 9), an old time ode to planting seeds wherever you are, even in the midst of uncertainty, and “The Last Song” (track 10), a Lewis and Tolkien inspired, haunting duet that captures the universal, persistent hope that there’s a greater home somewhere beyond this life. Throughout this album, David and Tabitha’s musical story unfolds with the support of a host of talented guest musicians including: John Doyle, Brian Finnegan, Brittany Haas, Ethan Ballinger, and more.
Listening to this album will leave you convinced that The Foreign Landers were destined to be together and destined to leave their unique mark on the acoustic music scene. Their authenticity and originality in songwriting, tasteful multi-instrumental prowess, evocative vocals and unique transatlantic touch all combine together to create something inexpressibly foreign and yet strangely familiar. To quote Bluegrass Unlimited, “...be forewarned... The Foreign Landers have arrived. Listening to their music is like reuniting with an old friend. So, open up your door, welcome them in and put their music on. You will be glad you did.”