Moccasin Bender seems like a mighty step forwards for artist and songwriter Randy Steele. Mabbit Springs starts the process beautifully, the instrumentation is organic and colourful, multi-layered and expressive – never simply falling into the trap of simple repetitive riffs. Everything here is musically impressive, and Steele’s songwriting is second to none. The classic Americana or country essence has something of a genuine edge about it, which is exactly what you get with this collection – the authenticity, the grit, the poetry, the rhythm, the emotion. It’s a pleasure to make your way through this project. Nothing is quite as you’d expect, and yet everything satisfies in a totally immersive way.
Adam and Rose sees things fall back to the raw musicianship of a single acoustic performance. Even in this setting (perhaps more so, in some ways) the song captivates in a notably pure and entrancing manner. Steele’s voice is mesmerising, stunning even – delicately open and real, delivering these gorgeous melodies and heartfelt, considerate stories and ideas in a way that completely surrounds you. The simple magic of this song is well placed at this point and is followed in a striking way by the vibrancy and bounce of Big Talkin’ Woman.
Whatever the titles of these songs or the suggested genres may imply to you, there’s no describing quite how wonderful the listening experience is without you simply diving straight in. Randy Steele has something special about his sound and his approach to creativity. These songs feel necessary, unstoppably expressive and skillful, and that’s a powerful thing to present.
Age Of Ben offers another raw moment of softness, the rhythmic strum of an acoustic guitar accompanies the driving force that is Steel’s beautiful voice and this totally compelling story-line. If you hadn’t felt the varying waves of emotion just yet, you undoubtedly will right here. Arrangement is important and it’s well utilised on this EP – although, it would mean very little if the songs weren’t so damn good.
Rummies follows and mellows things out a little. The mood feels hopeful, present – as if the song is for right here, right now. The movement of the music feels familiar and the leading melody is quick to settle into your consciousness. Pretty Little Girl With A Blue Dress On comes afterwards and brings the EP to manically joyful finish. You’re reminded of the sheer strength of the musicianship, and once again – it’s purely an acoustic performance. The chaotic pace draws you in and the brief story-line and melody hold tight to that attention. The only things missing is a real-time performance – something that would almost certainly make for a fantastic evening out.