Stephen Burba (vocals/guitar) and Daniel Stone (banjo/guitar/bass/backup vocals/percussion) are The American Union. The duo recently released Songs From Upstairs, which is a demo that gives you an idea of what they offer.
Suffice it to say the biggest thing holding back the songs is the production and recording quality. The type of music they play which veers towards Americana, folk and country sounds best with high production value. You want to be able hear the nuances of the strings and warmth in the vocals and with this release it’s not quite there. That being said you can still tell the songs are well written.
The songs on this release revolve around simple chord progressions and melodies that don’t require much effort to enjoy. Up first is “Gatlinburg Bound” which is a pleasant song. The song has a lot of string work (banjo and lead guitar) and almost sounds too convoluted at times, as if there were too many notes, which ultimately took away from the lead vocal. Burba has a familiar sounding voice that you have probably heard before. He feeds the trope of the over masculine country dude who sounds rugged. He sings, “The second hand has become my enemy / As I stare out of this window into the city. / Every tick I grow tired of the same crowd, / The same sounds, the same old scene downtown.”
The second song fares better than the first in almost every way. I thought the singing felt more natural and the lead string work let the vocals breathe this time around. The song is reflective and melancholy and is good vibe for the duo. I would have loved to hear this song with better production quality. This is surely a song that they will want to hopefully re-record at some point.
“Windows” is another solid song but the energy really never changes in the song. One major change or breakdown may have helped this song. “Brother” is another song that shows some potential while the closer “You Take My Fear” slowly builds with energy.
The duo at this point are rough around the edges and will need to make some improvements if they hope to be competitive with some of the best artists around today. There are some noticeable timing issues and they will have to dig deeper to create a more distinct sound at some point. I’d say they are off to a solid start but have some work ahead if they hope to do this professionally.
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