Think about the last wedding you attended. Chances are, the band wasn’t particularly innovative. Maybe they should have hiredOwls & Lions. For years, the New Jersey combo has been demonstrating that a wedding band can have an original sound and an original approach – and play original material, too. Guitarist Jay Della Valle and violinist Nicole DeLoi (and, sometimes, Kevin Walters on drums) make celebratory, stylishly rustic folk-rock, equally suitable for ceremonies, singalongs, parties, and quiet reflection. There’s A Light, their latest EP, showcases the group’s warmth, compassion, romanticism, and songwriting smarts. Listen to it, and you’ll understand why so many discerning couples choose Owls & Lions as the soundtrack to their big day.
“God Bless You & Protect You,“ their new single and video, is pure inspiration. The song is addressed to a child, but it could just as easily apply to a spouse, parent, or beloved friend. DeLoi takes the first verse, and Della Valle takes the second; both singers are welcoming, genial, and prayerful. But they never any more reverent than they do when they raise their voices together and harmonize like a dream.
Fans of Jersey independent rock might be surprised by the sweetness of Jay Della Valle’s singing and songwriting with Owls & Lions. Though he’s raucous on his solo records, he’s always had an impeccable sense of melody and a sentimental streak. Della Valle, who is also a filmmaker and an actor, has a record of charitable projects that’s as long and deep as his discography. He’s always made music for good causes and important occasions, and Owls & Lions is simply an extension of his previous projects. Nicole DeLoi, a music educator and classically trained musician, plays the violin – and she can hold her weight, too. As the primary songwriter, she not only tells stories, but makes the listener feel exactly what she’s feeling. DeLoi and Della Valle have a natural, instinctual harmony – and they do what no other wedding band does: create original songs to go along with the covers.
The harmony between these musicians is front and center in the heartwarming clip for “God Bless You & Protect You.” Inspired by the hit TV show This Is Us, “God Bless You & Protect You” effectively toggles back and forth between past and present while keeping to one central storyline. DeLoi is the songwriter and main character, and we see her having flashbacks to moments from her childhood with her dad. Della Valle plays DeLoi’s father, singing to a younger Nicole (played by her daughter). It’s a circle of protection for the most precious thing in the world – showing how the unconditional love a parent has for a child transcends generations. The goal of the video, simply put, is to tug on your heartstrings – whether you’re a parent or someone who has lost a parent – so be prepared for some happy tears.