“Somewhere between a 1950s wedding band and Neil Young’s ditch trilogy,” leaves Steig quite a bit of room to play with on his debut, self-titled release. The project of multi-instrumentalist Matthew Maier, Steig is an album designed to leave a wide expanse for creativity.
Maier plays piano, keyboard, acoustic and electric guitars, lap steel, bass, ukulele, and harmonica on the album, but left the drums up to four separate musicians he found online—and never met. Each drummer was given a loose template for the track, but allowed to add their own elements to the songs. That outsourcing is what stretches the album across Maier’s broad description for it, even as each track is bound together by the layers he’s already built in.
It’s a slow country-dance to start with “Dynamite,” before leading in to the heavily 50s-esque “I Want You” as Maier modifies his vocals to sound like a fitting old recording. “Ketchikan” rolls out a brooding folk number with a soaring bridge, and introduces the third drummer. It’s only on the fourth track that a drummer repeats, even as the song slides back into a 1950s groove before Maier fuses it with a harmonica and turns it into a classic rocking folk song.
There’s a dreamy, distant feel to “Got My Eyes On You.” The seven-minute track prolongs the mellow middle of the album, claimed by drummer Joe Carson, stretching the songs as they savour the slow pacing. The album closes with the same drummer that opened it, a final dancing number repeating “It’s fine” as the album winds itself up before winding down—and Maier’s experiment proves to be more than just fine as each of the songs, and all their unique elements, settle neatly into place.
Top Tracks: “Ketchikan”; “Got My Eyes On You”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)