The Nashville-based duo Steelism - Jeremy Fetzer (guitar) and Spencer Cullum (pedal steel) - garnered critical praise and gained a national audience with the release of their 2014 instrumental album, 615 to FAME. These talented artists deliver another praise-worthy project with their second full-length album, ism, co-produced by Fetzer and Cullum. Released via Thirty Tigers June 23rd, ism mixes the sounds of harmonica, guitars, keys, and pedal steel with a string quartet into a re-imagined musical journey through rock, blues, techno, and country - putting forth a stylistic flair that will appeal to both music and cinema enthusiasts.
The album fittingly kicks off with “Re-member”, a roots rock instrumental laced with twang and orchestral flourishes. “Eno Nothing” has a funky groove and guitars aplenty while “Chartreuse” brings a bluesy, Clapton-esque feel. “Anthem” begins with a slow, deliberate piano before rocking into a sound that would be at home in the soundtrack to a Quentin Tarantino movie.
“Shake Your Heel” blends a little techno with ethereal vocals from Tristen in a song about coping with the stresses and anxieties we have from living with the noise of endless news cycles. Ruby Amanfu lends her sultry vocals to “Roulette” while Andrew Combs and Jessie Baylin combine their voices on the lovely Americana duet “Lonely Game.”
For the lyric-driven listener, the prospect of being attentive to a mostly instrumental offering may not be your idea of Option A, but I find there is something to be said for focusing on the beauty of the music and letting your mind create the story.
To find out more about Steelism, visit their website at www.steelismmusic.com where you can also purchase their music.