REVIEW: St. Even’s “Spirit Animal”

Photobucket Music that doesn’t bother cutting to the chase, in other words, music that is simplistic in sound but complex in its construction and presentation, moves me. It can be considered Americana but it doesn’t have that dirt-deep twang. It can be considered pop or indie pop, but pop purists may argue, which isn’t a good thing. But St. Even sound like those musicians of yesteryear, and I speak of 100 to 150 years ago, who used to travel from town to town to make a living, hoping to find a home and some food. Then again, that can describe indie rock and punk bands in the 21st century.

Let me get to the point. This description could be perfect to describe their sound, taken from the liner notes:
the pain always picked up and renewed a variation on a theme like your favorite food always the same but always some variation like cherries or Indian nuts or barbecues roast loin or pork

I interpret this as saying that what you will hear is definitely familiar to fans of that rustic, acoustic sound of country, folk, and blues, and with that familiarity that you enjoy comes the unfamiliarity, the curiosity factor that makes you want to sit down and listen to them. Steve Hefter may be the core of the group, as he sings and plays most of the instruments throughout, although with his cast of friends helping him out, he becomes a part of that traveling pack of musicians singing about hope, dreams, pain, suffering, love, pain, and everything we question in life but somehow find something that keeps us going. Even if that “something” is different, we all strive to get to our inevitable destination in one piece. Maybe the Spirit Animal (Dustbin) in the title is a metaphor for who we were, mere entities in a container for specific segments of time and we’re roaming around trying to make sense of what’s in front of us and what may lurk behind us. Fans of Ray LaMontagne, Wilco, and Donavon Frankenreider will appreciate the intimacy of St. Even and what Hefter tries to convey. It sounds of the past, but there’s a need for this to be heard and shared now, as a means to shine the light on a bit of uncertain darkness everyone seems to be sharing these days.

(Spirit Animal will be released on September 6th.)

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