May 21, 2011
There’s been an artist whose music I’ve been meaning to share but many factors have obstructed me. One being that the genre this project can be classified as is is not one that I have had adequate time to become intimate with.
Country music, a very broad label that constitutes many sub-genres, as it has been for the past few decades has deterred me to a great degree, but a few artists still strive to keep the old soul alive. Though there are many interpretations of what that soul is exactly, it seems rather obvious to me that a good deal of its roots lay in tales of misfortune and local folklore; hence we encounter the old dynamic that is suffering artists producing introspective and memorable works of art. This phenomena was embodied recently for me in John Stepp‘s solo work. Since it was an instrumental endeavor, a moment should be taken to explore his musical influences and background.
Raised primarily in West Virginia with very humble beginnings, John grew up listening to classic delta blues musicians like Charlie Patton and smooth country like Patsy Cline before moving up to harsher southern rock later in life. He had the benefit of his father’s experience as a guitarist and dedicated all his waking hours to playing guitar during his younger years. John’s initiation into the metal world started when he left home at an early age and joined Abdullah and Erase The Grey some time down the line.
Those experiences play out noticeably in his now abandoned solo work. The tracks have no particular order other than date of release so all we truly have to go on is the music for an interpretation of his intent. He describes his work as “songs for the forlorn patrons of the Freeway Motel” simply because he wrote most of them while staying in one.
Every song, aside from “Drowning,” is a somber journey with an uplifting accent. “Drowning” is the exception since it’s an energetic stoner/southern rock song with Josh Adkins, former Abdullah member as well, playing drums and John doing everything else. There is also another small exception to this that comes in the form of the song titled “Says the Wind” which is something reminiscent of a classic western movie. The rest of the songs in this collection are acoustic guitar pieces that can be classified as country or folk music. Some other significant mentions would be the toy harmonica used in “Out of Reach” and “Ballad of the Wolf” being a, well, ballad. Personally, I recommend “Walked” and “Drowned” since they are my favorites.