Chattanooga’s Randy Steele, also the frontman of award winning band Slim Pickins, traveled to Muscle Shoals to record his more eclectic spin on traditional bluegrass as well as exercise his growth as a songwriter resulting in the latest solo album Songs from the Suck.
About the album title (which definitely grabs your attention), Randy states,
The Suck is a reference to Suck Creek that comes into the Tennessee River close to my house. In the early days before TVA dammed the rivers, it was a notorious section of rapids that would break boats and such. Just below was Moccasin Bend, where Cherokee raids were often waiting, and the Muscle Shoals in Alabama was another dangerous section of the river. I liked it phonetically and I thought it would be an easy title to remember.”
Throughout his career Randy has performed on stages from California to places like Belgium and Holland. While his band’s songs were receiving a lot of support from listeners and radio, Randy stayed busy writing songs he would eventually record with drums and slide guitar…what he says is a “no-no” in traditional bluegrass circles. Despite the growing demand for his intimate solo performances, Randy still performs with Slim Pickens.
Songs from the Suck includes 12 tracks of good ole fashioned bluegrass which act as the soundtrack for Randy’s storytelling. His single Mobile Soon placed third in the Circa Blue Bluegrass Songwriting competition. Hideaway will be featured on the Relix Magazine November sampler.
Touching on Steele’s excellent storytelling, Mobile Soon discusses returning home after facing the challenges of surviving in a major city. Northbound 29 is the perfect travel tune which was inspired by stories from truckers. Hard Givin’ is about someone attempting to find direction in their life through thoughtful and powerful imagery. Hideaway brings to life a mountain and a spring as they sing the song from their perspective. Drinkin’ To Do, with its sweet sounding guitar tones, is an apt anthem for any occassion where you have some drinkin’ to do.
Shove The Pig’s Foot Closer To The Fire is a nice break from the storytelling as it features a beautiful instrumental banjo melody that is upbeat and a highly enjoyable listen. Eliza Mae is an uptempo plea for Eliza Mae to finally come back home. Visitation Day tells the story of a lonely prisoner on death row patiently biding his time as another visitation day passes.
Fast banjo runs, uplifting rhythms, sweet and speedy solos, upright bass, support from acoustic and electric guitars, excellent storytelling and top shelf musicianship collide on this bad ass bluegrass record. Randy Steele is a master at his craft.
Songs from the Suck is available from Bandcamp.