Folk Songs EP by singer/songwriter Ian Steinberg is an interesting collection of some folk-influenced songs that drift off into jam band sensibilities. The songwriting and the mix is very unique for the style and makes for an interesting listen.
“Western Ghost Tale” opens the album with very dry snare rolls up front in the mix, some country tinged acoustic guitar and bass, and a Phish like melody and vocal inflection. The mix has an abrupt change in the vocal break, and back when the lyrics return which is a bit jarring, but otherwise the mix is unique and interesting. It gives a sense of being in the room with the band, and the overall dryness makes it a very intimate listening experience.
“Test The Air” introduces an electric guitar to the vibe complete with a Neil Young-esque searching solo. The vocal harmonies work very well as does the auxiliary percussion that locks into the groove with the drums very well. The tightness of the band playing together translates very well on the recording, the acoustic guitar pattern syncs with the drums very well and the bass pushes the groove along.
“Letters” is stripped down to acoustic guitar and a harmony vocal from Michelle Rosnack. The male/female vocal blend is very effective, and it would be interesting to hear this choice on more songs on the EP. “Philosophy” continues the Neil Young vibe again with a “Down By The River” type of groove and vocal inflection. There are some great electric guitar volume swells in the chorus that help the song’s build and sonic structure and some pseudo James Brown band hits and stops. At the end of the song, the band moves to a double time country stomp, which is a nice development before moving back to the initial groove and showcasing some acoustic guitar runs.
“Lonely Killer Blues” moves through several feel changes touching on a chugging train shuffle, an upbeat rock groove, some half-time stoner grooves and some breakdowns. There’s a trippy trumpet that has the most reverb to it giving it a dreamy distant sense. In general, the vocal is a bit flat in emotion in contrast to the builds in the band, so when Steinberg really starts screaming numbers it’s a bit jarring.
Overall, the songs have many interesting sections to them, though it would be nice to hear some more transitional developments to the songs instead of always steering the wheel into a new feel, groove or section. The mix is fairly unique for the genre, but works quite well and makes for an intriguing listen.
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