Randy Steele releases new music

BANDCAMP: https://randysteele.bandcamp.com/releases

Randy Steele of the Slim Pickens Bluegrass Band, from Chattanooga, TN, also has a solo album entitled: Songs From The Suck. It contains 12 fictional based tracks surrounding his local area, Suck Creek, hence the title. If you’ve heard the Slim Pickens Bluegrass Band, then you’ll be happy to hear more of the same with some different touches added to characterize it from what he normally does and add some depth to his already wide range of musical abilities. If it comes off lyrically less than serious, that’s because Randy Steele leaves much to the imagination in his songs, rather than showcasing a bunch of true stories.

The stories take you wherever you want to go but stick to his own thread to keep them together, and that’s where tales of home-based tracks comes from. “Northbound 29” is the first track and there is no time wasted in showing his banjo-picking prowess. This lead off track has the ability-to remind you of everyone from Ricky Scaggs to the Eagles. It has that much variety and more, it’s a cerebral song with a lot of energy, and a fabulous opener. You’ll want to do a double-take once it passes by with a maximum amount of finesse. Randy Steele is a picking force to reckon with, and that’s no exaggeration.

“Angels And Halos” is in another realm from the previous track, but oh so good itself. This is a marvelous track about meeting truckers, but not quite expected after opening with such a more instrumental oriented entrance. There is almost no way to dislike it thus far in the mix. This is a matter of good musicianship, songwriting and production, all the way. The playing chops of Randy Steele are as solid as they come, and the following tracks go onto prove that as the CD wears on. This isn’t exactly traditional bluegrass in every song, it has other inflections of country, America and singer/songwriter music.

“Hard Givin’” is one of the best on offer, with a story about rebuilding a wheel well on an old train. The point of it all is to concentrate on a deeper direction in life. This is where the songwriting shows an undeniably great quality and flexibility in one of the album’s defining moments. It comes recommended for this track alone. And tracks like “Visitation Day” and “Hideaway” could not be from more different worlds within the same track list, but that’s an example of how much variety there is for a bluegrass album. It goes the distance to maintain the proper varieties to go with this rich southern culture.

The playfulness comes out on tracks like “One Man Stringer” to show there’s fun to be had behind any song. This is where the sting work is probably at its strongest on the album, but it’s also very delicate, fine intricate work at that. This great acoustic-laden tune is almost like skiffle meets jug band, with all the extraordinary campfire comforts.  Another contrasting track is “Drinking To Do” at which the least serious point of the album arrives. The guitars really ick up and leave you in a better mood than other ballads here, but they’re all top notch, as is the entire album and songwriter Randy Steele.

Mike Tabor

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