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Steppin' in It - Simple Tunes for Troubled Times

Simple Tunes for
Troubled Times

Steppin' in It

EW00308

Available from Fox on a Hill.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).

These smart alec and roots-soulful lads automatically become one of my favored good-time, protest, and slink folk bands. In the lead cut, Break of Day, the lyrics are uncompromisingly damning of modern life while cynically wry, wearily pissed, and leerily hopeful. The instrumentation is top-notch, based in times past, blending folk with bluegrass, stripped big band, honky-tonk, and a cabbage patch of kindred styles. The lads sound like they've been sneaking nips at the corn likker while pickin' 'n grinnin', relaxed but skillful as demons, dustily knowing and pickle barrel philosophical, then kicking it up in Gary's Romp, a variation on Cat's Squirrel (the hallowed trad tune arranged so well by Mick Abrahams for Jethro Tull way back when), and slinky as a back-door beau.

I don't know what it is with so many groups but the core band's credits aren't given on the CD, and their site wasn't responding at all when I queried it, so I'm flying blind here, but the lead singer is highly polished while rough around the edges, with the perfect amount of grit and mid-West restrained verve. The players are golden and then some, precisely on-point whether lazin' back or cutting a jig, everything carrying a bracing air of confident ease, a warm love for the form. Give My Regards to Miss Moline has the potential to become a standard and flows directly into The Steamboat Queen. The recording process (by Glenn Brown) is perfect, catching every nuance in its proper level, extremely well balanced, complementary while complimentary.

Again, I have no info sheet or any of that, but this can't be a first release. These cats are aces. Their cover of Randy Newman's Mr. President is tributary to a fault and every cut its equal, a real treat, fluent as hell and swingin'. Listen to The Long Haul and you'll hear a song the Eagles wish they would have written. Very, very infectious, and I think that's the best term for these guys. Once you start listening, it's impossible to stop. The next time I head for a hiking venture in the Colorado Plateau, this is going to be up front in my caché of road discs.

Track List:

  • Break of Day
  • Give My Regards to Miss Moline
  • The Steamboat Queen
  • Hittin' on all Six
  • Charles Hatfield's Blues
  • The Long Haul
  • Gary's Romp
  • Wren's Lul-a-by
  • The Ghost of Richard Manuel
  • Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man)
  • Washtenaw County

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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