Artist: Randy Steele
EP: ‘Moccasin Bender’
Intensely capturing the struggles of contending with the effects of some of life’s most riveting lessons, including heartbreak and addiction, in eclectic artistry isn’t always a natural ability in musicians. But Chattanooga, Tennessee-based singer, Randy Steele, is once again proving his dynamic growth as a songwriter with his new bluegrass-folk EP, ‘Moccasin Bender.’ The six-track album, which is set to be unveiled on July 12, is his first effort since he released his critically acclaimed full length solo debut album last year, ‘Songs from the Suck.’
Like his previous Americana-country effort, the musician’s new record proves that his experiences with the award-winning band, Slim Pickins Bluegrass, wasn’t just a fluke. He knows how to combine his bluegrass roots with his ever-deepening ability to reflect on his experiences, in order to be a sentimental storyteller.
‘Moccasin Bender’ begins with its first single, ‘Mabbit Springs,’ which is a story song that’s inspired by the true story of a man who makes a deal with his God to spare his son’s life. The bluegrass-infused track, on which the heartfelt lyrics are backed by the banjos, slide guitar, fiddle and drums, features the singer emotionally crooning that he doesn’t need anyone’s sympathy or empathy; instead, all he needs is faith.
The sophomore entry on Steele’s latest EP is titled ‘Adam and Rose,’ which also tells an emotional narrative story. Backed by a passionate banjo, the musician recounts the equally sweet and sad story of young love in a soulful bluegrass vocal range. The title couple’s love turned to parenthood, which unfortunately then transitioned to loss and heartache, as Rose passed away a decade earlier. This slower and more sentimental version of the song is a remix of the original, faster tempo version, which appears on the 2013 self-titled record of Steele’s former group. The gripping reworking of the emotional song powerfully highlights the fact that the pain experience from losing a loved one never completely fades.
The singer’s next track is the country, chamber pop and folk-inspired ‘Big Talkin’ Woman.’ Driven by a more generally upbeat rock and reggae-infused instrumentation, which features enthralling strings, violin and banjo, as well as a highly articulate lyricism, than its predecessors, Steele elicits a Merle Haggard-esque vibe. The distinct instrumentation and vocal combination prove what a intriguing musician Steele truly is overall.
‘Moccasin Bender’ then delves into its most memorable and meaningful track, the acoustic-driven ‘Age of Ben.’ The album’s most complex tune chronicles the pain of another narrative story, which follows the son of a drug addicted mother who was taken from her at birth. The singer’s heart-wrenching retelling of the boy yearning to be reunited with his birth mother makes it a dark, insightful and haunting ballad, especially since he never did get the chance to meet her when he grew older. The tune powerfully emphasizes the importance of children discovering who they truly are as they grow older, even if they aren’t able to achieve all of their dreams.
Steele’s new record then delves into the enthralling entry, ‘Rummies,’ on which he offers his account of Ernest Hemingway’s 1937 novel, ‘To Have and Have Not,’ which chronicles a fishing boat captain who travels out of Key West, and runs contraband between Cuba and Florida. The musician commandingly shines a spotlight on his love for American literature on the folk, rock and Fleetwood Mac-inspired song, which is driven by a captivating blend of the banjo and strings.
‘Moccasin Bender’ ends with the uptempo ‘Pretty Little Girl with a Blue Dress On,’ which is a country, Americana and bluegrass dance track. While the tune lasts than a minute, the simplistic but equally intriguing entry wraps up Steele’s signature style and sound on his latest EP.
Intensely capturing the struggles of contending with the impact of some of life’s most gripping lessons through eclectic artistry is one of the most natural abilities that Steele possesses as a musician. The Tennessee-based musician is proving his dynamic growth as a singer-songwriter with ‘Moccasin Bender.’ The album isn’t just a fluke for the singer-songwriter; he knows how to combine his bluegrass roots with his natural ability to reflect on his experiences, in order to become a passionate storyteller in his music.