With a burly, blues-driven swing, Michael A. Coker’s Story Book Road lays into “It Don’t Mean Nothin,” one of the cornerstone tracks of their 2018 extended play, The Window of Your Soul, and while the countrified vocal harmonies are quite spellbinding in this rough-edged jam, they’re not nearly as dominant a force as the lightly overdriven fretwork at the forefront of the mix is. The Window of Your Soul packs as many country thrills as it does rock-inspired chills (like those that we find in this little gem of a track), and while all six of its songs are unique in their own right, they share an endearingly unrefined melodicism that has become a bit of trademark for Story Book Road.
The guitars are full of so much texture that it’s hard to pay attention to anything else in “Sister Sally,” the exotic “Carmen Miranda” and adrenaline-laced title track. The lyrics that we find throughout the record are really relatable and never steeped in the halfhearted poeticisms and enigmas of mainstream Nashville, but they’re also not as expressive as the instrumental elements of this EP are. I get the impression that Story Book Road aren’t satisfied with making formulaic music of any kind; The Window of Your Soul, and everything that I’ve heard them play for that matter, is simply too multifaceted for me to think any differently.
“Cabin in the Woods,” “Get Out Tonight” and “It Don’t Mean Nothin” sound like they were designed for the bright lights of the stage and the cheer of an eager audience, and I think all three tracks have the flexible framework that extended live jams require. Every song here has a really loose, unrehearsed energy, sort of like what you would encounter in a smokin’ bar band’s mashup setlist, and it adds to the homespun feel of the music substantially. I’d love to see these guys live at some point, if only to hear if their vibrancy translates with as much zeal as it does on records like this one.
The Window of Your Soul presents us with some really strong material from a talented group of players who are making some huge waves in the country music underground this season, and if you didn’t have the chance to check this record out when it was initially released back in 2018, I’d highly recommend doing so now. It’s well worth all of the hype that it’s received, and if it’s any indication of what Story Book Road’s future work is going to sound like, I’ll be looking forward to hearing more.