The War And Treaty Reflect On Their Journey To New Album, ‘Lover’s Game’

The husband and wife duo are putting love at the forefront of their new music.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

March 10, 2023

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The War and Treaty; Photo by Dillon Sherlock/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

The War And Treaty recently reflected on the tumultuous journey that led them to their new album, Lover’s Game, during an interview with Country Now and other media outlets. During the hour-long conversation, the duo shared stories behind the songs and offered an honest look into a difficult time in their lives that ultimately brought them together and inspired several songs on the new project.

While they’re often labeled as a country music duo, Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter don’t let that hold them back from branching out into the music and variety of sounds that raised them to be the artists they are today. Instead, they let their artistry run free as they disclose their raw sincerity through whatever type of melody that fuels their souls. 

“I think that the main focus was to let it just pour out of you however it’s gonna come out,” Michael explained. “And intentional, given the sound of our love. Sometimes our love has the heartbreak of a country or blues song. Sometimes, our love has the elegance and the smokiness of jazz, or you know, the sexiness of R&B or the urgency and salvation of gospel and Christian, whatever it is…So we just wanted it to sound how we felt, and that was honest.”

Lover’s Game was produced by Dave Cobb in his Savannah home studio and marks their first major-label release under Mercury Nashville. The War and Treaty spent time sifting through over 100 songs that they had written within the last two years, before landing on the final 10-song track listing for Lover’s Game

Ahead of the official release, fans got a glimpse into the project with songs like “That’s How Love Is Made,” “Ain’t No Harmin’ Me,” “Blank Page,” “Dumb Luck,” and the soaring title track, “Lover’s Game.”

The infectious melody of the title track sets the tone for the authenticity that follows in the rest of the chapters. The couple revealed that the inspiration for the beginning line of the chorus actually stems from an essential part of their recording process. 

“Margarita, hot chicken, strawberry wine / Looking for your lovin’ to be mine, all mine,” they sing. 

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“We recorded the record in Savannah, Georgia, and we didn’t have like that ‘margarita hot chicken, strawberry wine’ line. So Dave Cobb, who fed us to death while we recorded this record, he threw that in there,” Tanya explained. “I never had hot chicken before, so when we were doing it, I was like, I gotta be authentic. I need to go and find a place with some hot chicken. So, you know, I went and got some hot chicken and it’s just an ode to Nashville and our experience here. It was just a lot of fun recording that record, too.”

While discussing their path in life that led them to create such a stunning list of new songs to add to their catalog, the pair opened up about the beginnings of their love story. When they first met, they were both homeless and jumping from place to place among many different people until they landed in Richmond, VA. 

“We were living in a transitional house. We didn’t realize that next door, it was a transitional house that we were sharing and we were on food stamps, you know, we had our little baby with us and this is probably not even five years ago…maybe seven years ago,” Tanya explained. “So when I think about it, it doesn’t seem that far removed, you know, from my thinking now. I get up every morning when I’m home and I go out on the back of our porch and I’m just reminded of how good God is, how good it is to be able to have the strength to get up every day and be resilient and just be reminded of this gift that we have. It’s a gift, and it’s not for us, you know, it’s to be given to everyone that listens to it.”

Michael added his side of the story, sharing, “There were a lot of times where I doubted. And before we even sang one note together, I go back to when I first opened up to my wife about what I thought of my life at the time. I was a homeless veteran, I had come out of the military from serving, I did two tours in Iraq, and I had just had enough of going to war. I only served for three and a half years, and I just remember war, war, war. I tried my hand at trying to make it outside the military and had no skill. I mean, how do you go from fighting to pushing paper? I mean, you can’t do it.”

In 2005, he traded in his weapon for a pencil and paper to begin his journey of songwriting. This turned into him performing for the military and his unit for his job. However, he went on to share how it was his beautiful partner who ended up giving him that second chance at life and allowing him to step into his best self after all these years of trying to figure out where he was meant to be. 

This memory comes to life through their song, “Blank Page,” which is all about starting over on a clean slate with someone. Instead of judging that other person based on their past, they chose to write a new story together. 

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Michael even remembers the very date of their initial meeting – August 28, 2010. 

“I had sung, and she asked me if I wrote those songs. I said, ‘yes.’ And she said, ‘they’re very real,’ and she wanted me to come to her house and write some songs. After spending time with her, you know, I just told her about my life. I said, ‘Hey, you know, I just wanna open up to somebody. I’m homeless, I’m struggling, I don’t have a pot to piss in, I got two beautiful daughters from a failed marriage from the military, and I got a gift, but I don’t know how to get to what I think I can become.’ I said, ‘so I’m nothing and I don’t want somebody like you to fall in love with me because I’m not a catch. I’m not somebody you wanna take home to Daddy and Mama.’ I said, ‘the only thing I know how to do is love.’ 

“Tanya grabbed my hands and she said, ‘well, you’ve told me everything you saw. Now let me tell you what I see. I see a king. You just need the right kind of queen in your life,’” he added.

This was the moment that he finally accepted that he was good enough. 

“Love told me I was worth it. An Angel said I’m worth saving. My mind goes to this woman here. That’s it.”

This heartfelt story comes to life through every inch of their newest project and especially tracks like “Angel,” “Have Your Heart,” “The Best I Have.” It’s not a fictional tale, it’s not anyone else’s story, it’s their truth. The War and Treaty’s ability to unleash such resounding wisdom while also letting loose and having fun with their craft is what makes them stand out among the crop of rising stars. 

Fans will get to hear Lover’s Game live on stage as the duo prepares to perform in more than 35 cities on their own LOVER’S GAME TOUR. This trek kicks off on March 19 in Oklahoma City, Ok, and features special guests Kat & Alex and William Prince.

The War and Treaty; Photo by Austin Hargrave
The War and Treaty; Photo by Austin Hargrave

“We’re really excited to work this record, to get out there with the fans with this new album. They are just as excited about it as we are,” Tanya shared. “I’ve been mapping out kind of where we’re gonna go cause we travel with our kids, our son and our daughter, you know, museums and asking people where to go and stuff like that. So we’re extremely excited about this time around, experiencing it in a different way instead of just hopping in these cities and not getting an opportunity to really meet people. So we’ll have meet and greets with our fans. We’ve never really done that before our shows.”

Then in the summer, they will get to join country superstar, Chris Stapleton on the road in support of his All American Road Show

“Just even talking about going out with Chris Stapleton is a dream come true for us,” she added. 

The War and Treaty - Lover's Game
The War and Treaty – Lover’s Game

LOVER’S GAME Track Listing: 

1. “Lover’s Game” Written by Michael Trotter Jr., Tanya Trotter, Dave Cobb

2. “Blank Page” Written by Michael Trotter Jr., Tanya Trotter

3. “Ain’t No Harmin’ Me” Written by Michael Trotter Jr., Tanya Trotter

4. “Yesterday’s Burn” Written by Michael Trotter Jr., Tanya Trotter

5. “That’s How Love Is Made” Written by Michael Trotter Jr., Tanya Trotter, Dave Barnes

6. “The Best That I Have” Written by Michael Trotter Jr., Tanya Trotter

7. “Dumb Luck” Written by Beau Bedford

8. “Angel” Written by Michael Trotter Jr., Tanya Trotter

9. “Up Yonder” Written by Michael Trotter Jr., Tanya Trotter

10. “Have You A Heart” Written by Michael Trotter Jr., Tanya Trotter

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.