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If you listen close enough to Troubled Days, the newest and first fully independent album from Cincinnati pop-rock duo, Seabird, you just might hear a sigh of relief. Aaron and Ryan Morgan, the band of brothers behind Seabird, are ready to release their third LP after negotiating an end with their record label (EMI) of six years, and raising over $40K with the help of an incredibly supportive fanbase and the popular fan-funding platform, Kickstarter. As the duo declares their independence for the first time, the release of Troubled Days is the culmination they’ve been waiting for. “Our fans were buying an album that hadn’t even been recorded yet,” said Aaron Morgan. And after surpassing their initial goal, “the Kickstarter campaign was not just comforting but reassuring in a lot of ways. It built confidence in us as writers. To know that the records we had made over the last five or six years had made believers out of a lot of people was incredible. These were people that wanted to invest in future music not even knowing what that music would sound like.” Newer Seabird fans might be surprised to learn that the Morgans have been making music together for nearly a decade. Two smaller EPs gave way to their debut and Rocks Into Rivers followed suit in 2009. Since then, the band has strengthened their live show, given fans a Christmas EP, and prepared for a record that was never released. Until now. “It does feel long overdue,” says Aaron. “Some of these songs were written around the time that the last record came out, so it has been a long time coming for us. But we are very, very pleased with the result and the fact that we were able to do it on our own with the help of our amazing fans. The level of quality is really satisfying. We didn’t cut any corners on this record.” The quality of Troubled Days can be attributed to the newfound freedom that the brothers felt in the studio. While the band has earned numerous TV placements on major networks such as ABC, NBC, MTV, and CBS and had quote-on-quote “commercial success” with major hits like “Don't You Know You're Beautiful” and “Rescue”, Seabird feels they truly came alive in the studio for Troubled Days. It’s a stage that Ryan says the band took some time to grow into. “It felt incredible, but I think it took a while for the feeling to really set in,” he says. “For the first time in a long time, we could put whatever song we wanted on the record; whichever we thought were the best.” With a newfound ability to make music on their own terms, Seabird seized the opportunity to tell stories of what inspired them; of brokenness and redemption, love and loss. The goal was to capture the world as they saw it without the gloss or sheen of label input. Troubled Days finds the Morgans taking flight into new territory, from the irresistible front porch stomp of “Stand Out” to the bouncing riffs of “We Can’t Be Friends”. Fans will undoubtedly love the new directions on Troubled Days, but Seabird hasn’t abandoned its wheelhouse. “Love Will Be Enough” and “Pull You In” find the Morgans at their best as the album’s emotional, affecting highlights. “I think this is the most honest record we’ve ever made,” says Aaron. “It dives into our marriages, our relationships—whether it be family, our children or people we’ve come across growing up and being adults—and it tells the real story of our lives. It shows the flaws and imperfections. Just like when you hear bands talking about not using Auto-Tune in the studio because they want those flaws and imperfections to be heard. That’s what makes you human.” “We’re telling real stories about the struggles we face as men, as husbands, as dads struggling to find a place of rest in the midst of pursuing music and working when we’re home, having families and all those things,” Aaron continues. “And we’re doing it in what I would consider a pretty raw way.” Despite the candid, vulnerable turn on Troubled Days, Aaron insists the goal is to ultimately bring hope to their fans. Whether it’s relational problems, personal tragedies or music industry woes, the members of Seabird have healed, moved on and found hope on the other side of life’s darker side. “Some of these songs come from a darker place, and I feel like that makes the songs more relatable,” says Aaron. “If they’re all coming from this place of total bliss and happiness, then it excludes a huge amount of people who are going through more difficult things. At the end of the day, we want to say to our fans, ‘We made it through. We’re making it through. Our marriages are stronger because of it. Our children are better off because of it. We’re better men because of it. We’re imperfect men, but we want to tell the real story.’”