Campanita, the new record from trop-pop duo Summer Salt out May 19 on Wax Bodega, is a breezy, blissful, and intimate monument to love, family, and everything in between. Its 12 tracks meander through sun-soaked and rose-tinted memories, deep rooted relationships and loss. The album drifts across a palette of dreamy jazz, bedroom pop, beachy bossa nova, and desert-night indie rock. There are guitars, keys, and gorgeous, cloud-light harmonies, but there are strings, synths, horns, and harmonicas, too.
Campanita takes its title from a nickname given to Terry’s sister, Madeleine, by their grandmother. When Maddie and Terry’s cousin, Angelina, passed away in January 2021, Terry was shaken to his core; it was the first time he’d experienced this kind of loss. He became determined to create something that would live on and celebrate the life of both his sister and cousin forever.
The process of creating the record allowed Terry to stay close to the two of them, and the end result is a work that will not die: it will live on forever, drifting through the heavy, warm southwestern air.
“The easiest place for me to put some of the energy I was feeling through this time was into something tangible, making something that will be permanent,” says Terry. “I was thinking, ‘This can’t be over, her life can’t be over, so I need to continue.’ So that was just something I ran with, and it’s been a beautiful process making this album.”
The band will celebrate Campanita, their fourth full-length release, with a full US headline tour beginning in May. The LP is a bold step forward in Summer Salt’s skyward career arc, which has built from auspicious Austin, Texas roots to count more than one million monthly listeners on Spotify and nods from both Live Nation’s Ones To Watch and American Songwriter. Throughout the record’s creation, drummer, percussionist, and keyboardist Eugene Chung experimented with new sonic elements, building a sound that’s fuller and more textured. “As we get older and write more songs, Matt and I are getting more interested in the production side of things and trying to make things sound a little different than what we’ve been doing,” says Chung.
Lead single “Campanita” is the first introduction to the record, with starry, gentle chording before Chung’s drums fade in like an engine rattling to life, propelling waves of hummed background vocals and Terry’s easygoing southwestern tenor: “You are so smart, and you’re gorgeous, Campanita/But you’re good, and that is why I need ya,” he climbs on the chorus. It borrows from a phrase Terry and his sister would repeat jokingly to one another, while the song “Macaroon” name checks Maddie with a pun: “Hey, Mad love for you,” Terry sings. A later track, “Sana,” which is based on an old Spanish nursery rhyme, was written and performed by Terry’s cousin and fellow band member Anthony Barnett. Being one of Maddie’s favorites, the song was recorded as a dedication, with the hush and mellow sound of Anthony singing in Spanish.
Terry says of the writing process and the difficulty in writing about something so emotional, “Sometimes when I would be writing lyrics, it almost felt like they were gifts. It was like they were given to me.”
Terry and Chung composed the songs while living apart—Terry in Dallas, Chung in San Francisco. They self-recorded much of the material before meeting in Fort Collins, CO in December 2022 to finish at The Blasting Room. Chris Beeble produced and engineered, and Joe LaPorta mastered the record. Anthony Barnett and Winston Triolo contributed guitar, bass, and backing vocals, and will join Summer Salt on their headline tour this spring.
More than any record before it, Terry and Chung are excited to put Campanita into the world. “It’s here forever,” says Chung. “Time can’t take this away from us.”