Album Review: The War and Treaty - “Lover’s Game”

Powerful lyrics and vocals propel husband-and-wife duo’s major label, Dave Cobb-produced album.

While both Michael Trotter and Tanya Blount-Trotter had various levels of success individually, it is together, as The War and Treaty, where they’ve made the best music over the past seven years or so. The married couple simply make great, if somewhat unclassifiable, music together. The songs on Lover’s Game (and their other albums) blend Country, Gospel, Soul, R&B and a dash of Rock genres into a blender to create unique music which is entirely their own. After steadily building up a following through their three previous albums, 2022 saw The War and Treaty signing to UMG Nashville’s Mercury Nashville label to release Lover’s Game. And the 10 album collection proves itself to be an instant classic.

The opening title track “Lover’s Game” feels like a long lost classic where the duo (who wrote or co-wrote most of Lover’s Game) let loose on the kind of jam that is the perfect opening track to an album or playlist and the music plays out in a visceral, visual style with their classic storytelling. I can envision a large stage concert performance of this track. Immediately after that track, they go into “Blank Page” and it’s one of the sweetest couple’s duet I’ve heard in a long time and with melodic visions of classic Motown without any sense of copycat, only that this powerful song would’ve fit right at home on any of the Motor City classics of the 60s and 70s.

The rootsy “An’t No Harmin’ Me” blends the Gospel, soul and country melodies as these powerful vocal artists sing of the darkness that permeates some relationships and how that darkness isn’t going to take them down as they’re too strong in faith and too resilient to let such darkness ruin their own, individual souls. It’s a special song ready for a special moment within a concert. Placed right in the middle of the record (at the end of Side A on the vinyl edition), “That’s How Love Is Made” might just be the best song and this placement on a record has classically been a spot where artists showcase show-stopping songs. “That’s How Love Is Made” feels like an instant classic. The same can kind-of be said about The War and Treaty’s 6th track on Lover’s Game, “The Best That I Have,” a moody, atmospheric record where both Michael and Tanya sing in a vocal tone that is both pleasing and relaxed (think slow jam style) on the track, which is sultry and about making the best of the moment, even if it’s only one night.

“Dumb Luck” is another highlight of the record With Tanya and Michael showcase powerful vocals in an epic sing-a-long ready love song and how God brought them together, even if there was their own “dumb luck” along the way that brought this couple together. There’s just something about this song and these two that makes this couple a special musical talent. The gospel side of the duo informs most of the back side of Lover’s Game with “Up Yonder” amongst the highlights on an altogether memorable album which could prove to be among 2023’s best major label releases.