For any music act, releasing that first album is a moment for celebration. For local band Lilly and the Implements, that momentous occasion also was tinged with relief after being delayed at least a year by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lilly and the Implements released its eponymous debut July 9, and will mark that milestone with a celebration performance at 9 p.m. Friday at O’Briens Irish Pub, 11 E. Central Ave. in downtown Temple. Admission costs $5.
The band formed in February 2019 around guitarist Wes Perryman, bassist Jon Napier, drummer Evan Shepperd and singer-songwriter Lilly Milford, who also plays acoustic guitar. Through a series of shows, it quickly gained notoriety throughout Central Texas and began to build a following.
“Things just kind of snowballed,” Perryman, 38, said during a recent interview. “We had a great year, and we played a lot of shows and … started to kind of create some buzz.
“So then, in September we went and cut the record in San Antonio,” he said. “The plan was that in 2020 things were really gonna take off. Things were really gonna get busy.”
Milford, 32, said the band had a lot of “cool stuff set up” to help launch “Lilly and the Implements,” including performances. They had T-shirts and other merchandise printed up.
“But then COVID happened, and everything just kind of shut down,” Perryman said.
The band recorded seven songs over 2½ days in September 2019 at Cibola Studios. But the tracks still needed to be mastered; that process stopped when the pandemic first started.
Milford eventually contacted a friend in Austin, Giovanni Carnuccio III, who is a Grammy-nominated musician and record producer. Carnuccio mastered the songs and helped with other parts of the process necessary to get the album ready to be released.
“Lilly and the Implements” is an appealing serving of Texas-flavored rock seasoned with country, blues and folk. Its songs are “If I Go Away,” “Let Me Know,” “Hush,” “Fire Fly,” “Baby Jade,” “Hollow” and “Bones.”
“These are my stories that run the gamut of emotions that I felt over the last 10 years,” Milford told the Telegram before the album’s release.
Milford, originally from Houston, grew up in Crockett in East Texas before moving to Temple in 2008. She was raised in a musical family — her father was a musician — and always loved to sing. She sang in her church choir, and was encouraged to enter talent shows.
“I always wrote songs, but never performed them,” she said.
When she was 23, a friend told her about a classic rock cover band named Hangar 24 — because it practiced in an airport hangar — that was looking for a new lead singer. She auditioned, but at first was only a backing singer for the band. She later became the lead singer.
Eventually she started performing on her own, singing and playing acoustic guitar. And she was always able to make a living as a performer, until the pandemic hit.
Milford said she writes the lyrics to her songs first, and then starts trying to put music to the words. The songs on “Lilly and the Implements” were a collaborative effort, with all of the arrangements worked up as a band.
“That’s the beautiful thing about all the tracks on this record,” Perryman said. “She had the bare structure of the songs, but we were able to, as a band, to sit down and take them up a few notches, and kind of build them and fill them out more. It was so much fun.”
Perryman, who is from Moody, started performing music in 2007. He and several friends learned to play guitar when they were in junior high school, and would get together to perform Nirvana and Metallica songs. He also sang in his church choir, and played in some bands in high school.
After high school he went the singer-songwriter route and performed on his own for several years before Lilly and the Implements formed. He said he’d never played electric guitar until he joined the band.
Recording the album gave him a fresh creative outlet, he said.
“I’m a songwriter, too, but I’ve been in kind of a rut creatively,” Perryman said. “It was really cool being able to take my creative side and put it toward Lilly’s songs.”
He also is proud the drums, bass and electric guitar were recorded live for the album, with no instrument overdubs. “They were performed just like a live show,” he said.
The songs from “Lilly and the Implements” are available on multiple streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple, YouTube, Pandora, iTunes and Amazon Music. Milford is working on a deal to have some compact discs of the album made. If Perryman has his way, there will even be some copies released on vinyl.
With this album finally released, Milford wants to get back to playing shows. She also is working on songs for the next album; they plan to go back into the studio at the end of August.