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A couple months ago I told you about Randy Steele and his Songs From The Suck album, a collection of songs that claimed to bend the rules of bluegrass. It was a collection of songs that I instantly fell for. Now, Steele is in the midst of releasing a new EP with six more songs you’re going to want to hear if you’re a fan of country and bluegrass, folk music, or even Americana. If you like the picking sounds and enjoy music that makes you tap your toes, it is here on Moccasin Bender.
The album Songs From The Suck got its name from Suck Creek, a creek that “merges with the Tennessee River close to his home.” Staying with his inspirations and geographical album names, Moccasin Bender has a geographic concept as well. According to the press release, “In the early days before TVA dammed the rivers, it was a notorious section of rapids that would break boats. Just below that is Moccasin Bend, a 1,000 acre peninsula sitting on the edge of the river.”
Moccasin Bender is a continuation of the amazing sounds of that previous full-length album. The songs are filled with banjo, steel guitar, and the fiddle, along with the drums that often stand out, but never overpower the country stylings of each track.
“Mabbitt Springs” is a song that made me think of the music from the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? It’s definitely a classic bluegrass sounding song. It has a mellow vibe that is relaxing yet uplifting. The song is about “a man making a deal with God to spare his son’s life, inspired by the narrative on a sign on Signal Mountain about a long ago true-life moment chronicling how Mabbitt Springs got its name.”
“Adam and Rose” has some beautiful picking sounds and Steele’s vocals are smooth and continually impressive as the song (and album) progresses. I love the stories inside the lyrics of these songs. Steele is an amazing storyteller. You almost want to listen to each song multiple times, allowing yourself to focus on something different each time. Each element of these songs comes together to make music that touches your soul.
“Big Talkin’ Woman” has a twangy addition to the vocals that isn’t heard in the other songs. This track has kind of a Merle Haggard like feel to it. It’s a future classic country tune for sure.
“The Age of Ben” is my favorite track on this EP. It’s a sad song and has a bit of a darkness to it. The darkness and sadness are in the lyrics. The strumming stays delightful, making it a sad song that doesn’t leave you weeping.
“Rummies” keeps the mellow sound of the entire EP, but it picks up the beat a bit. I couldn’t help but tap my toes throughout this entire song. The addition of female vocals for just a short moment on this song added a little more joy to the music. I liked her twang and wish she’d have been highlighted more in the song.
The final track is “Pretty Little Girl With A Blue Dress On.” This is a song that will make you want to get up and dance a gig. This is a song that will have you promenading your partner all over the dance floor. It ends the EP on a high note and is a really fun song.