The War and Treaty

Lover’s Game review | The War and Treaty’s exquisite blend of country, gospel and RnB

Husband and wife duo Tanya Trotter and Michael Trotter Jr – aka The War and Treaty – offer something of the divine on their major-label debut, Lover’s Game.


There’s a line on the song Blank Page from The War and Treaty’s stunning fourth album, Lover’s Game, that tells you almost everything you need to know about them. “I let my blood be my ink, I got a song for you only I can bleed”, married couple Tanya Trotter and Michael Trotter Jr sing.

It’s the perfect distillation of the belt and bond of their music, because bleed they do on this album. Their combined mammoth vocal power, which sits at the very top of the ranks of modern country music, matched only by peers like Chris Stapleton, is poured into every note.

In an age of albums that are pushing, sometimes exceeding, 30 songs, The War and Treaty only need ten to demonstrate their prowess as one of the finest duos making music in Nashville today, with their blend of country, gospel, folk, soul and R&B.

Lover's Game War & Treaty review

This album – their first on a major label – was created in the shadowy legacy of the pandemic, when the duo found that the career momentum they’d been building since they formed in 2014 suddenly ground to a halt.

Far be it from anyone to romanticise the lockdowns but there is a strangely comforting intimacy to this album that evokes the feeling of being holed-up in a house somewhere, with no outside world to intrude or escape to; the difference being that this is a house you actually want to spend time in.

In fact, it’s so encapsulating that you almost falter at the odd cultural reference thrown into songs, like watching episodes of Golden Girls on the mysterious and soulful ‘The Best That I Have’ or being rocked like a wagon wheel on the mournful ‘Dumb Luck’.

They open in unison on the rollicking title track, because as in love as they might be, romance can still have a few tricks up its sleeve. “Well you got me right where you wanted me to be, stuck in the middle of a hard place in Tennessee / Going round town tryna find out who knows your name”, they sing. It’s here that Tanya’s vocals really soar, alongside frenetic electric guitar and drums, both of which largely sit back for the rest of the album, produced by Dave Cobb in a characteristically retro style.

Lover's Game War & Treaty review

Photo: Michael Loccisano

‘Angel’, on which they sing “I’ve been reading you like a bible, memorising every verse” is perhaps the most traditional country-sounding song, its steel guitar as smooth and soothing as Michael’s voice – vocals that can effortlessly straddle multiple genres. On album closer ‘Have You A Heart’, Michael’s opening lines, preceded by a brush of brusque piano, are sung like the finest of country baritones.

The religious thread that runs through every song is worn unabashedly. No fleeting references to a saviour shoehorned in here; in singing lines like, “Your love is my religion, I’m a faithful member of your church” in the way they do, the album itself is an act of praise. On ‘Yesterday’s Burn’, they soothe, “Tell me what’s wrong, who hurt you baby, lay in my arms, I’ll serenade you”. It only takes one listen to know that those are arms where you’ll find yourself returning to again and again.

Leave a Reply

More like this