Friday, March 20, 2015

Review: Steps of Doe "On Returning"

It's Thursday night and I received an email about this release asking if I had a chance to listen to it yet.   It was my first hearing of it that I can recall, and as I'm about to give my son a bath I decide why not put it on and see what it sounds like.    You know, there are so many bands in the world today (just throughout the history of music as well) that I'm surprised more bands don't sound different from one another.

I have a lot of thoughts running through my head on that matter a lot, but it just seems like this should be less of a "It's all been done before" and more of a "variety is the spice of life" type of deal now.   I mention this because Steps of Doe have that Americana/grassroots/acoustic sound that I was looking for someone to compare with but couldn't quite find that exact reference point the way a band I forget the name of was once called "the female version of Mumford & Sons".

The songs are delicately crafted and right away, on my first full listen through of "On Returning", I am reminded of the first time I ever heard Two Gallants ("The Throes" / 2004 / pre-release) only it is in a different way entirely as this is the inverse of sound in delivery.   The passion is there, but Two Gallants was raw and angry sounding (which I still love) while Steps of Doe is something like a spider, luring you into its web and not afraid to stick a spike in you should you cross it.  

From song to song, "On Returning" has different elements of artists both past and present.   Delta Dart comes out in the vocal harmonies as do the somewhat darker elements of a band such as One-Eyed Doll or The Courtesans, which should not be mistaken for a way of saying that this sounds merely like an acoustic version of either of those bands though.

Fleetwood Mac comes out and not just in that way that Fleetwood Mac can come out in most anything good and there are also traces of some of the slower, drawn out Zepplin classics.     Many of the influences I tend to find in music both with female vocals and acoustic type of folk Americana with the usual suspects of banjos and strings other than guitars don't really seem to show up here so it's always refreshing to not have to be limited by your surroundings.    (In all fairness though, I do hear a bit of Neil Young's "Old Man" in these songs musically, but there is never anything wrong with having some Neil Young in your music)

My question for this EP, which really just couldn't be better, is whether or not it is possible to truly return.    I spent eight years in Houston, Texas and then moved back to my home state of Connecticut.   I'm not eager to count the number of years I've been back now, but it still doesn't really feel like I'm back yet.    So it's one of those "Can you go home again" questions, only not in the way that you're trying to live with your parents and maybe just trying to feel something familiar you once felt before.    Can it be done?  I have yet to figure that part of life out, unfortunately, but I can tell you that listening to music such as this EP by Steps of Doe makes life that much more pleasant.

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