Hailing from Hibbing, Minnesota, Paul Seeba has a sound that we are told is "versatile and evades typical music genres falling into indie, rock, folk and country"
His debut album Mitchell Yards became the soundtrack for a PBS documentary out of Minnesota that won a 2015 regional Emmy and in the same year, he also won an honour award from the Minnesota Preservation Alliance for raising awareness of the value of historical sites with his music.
On this second album, The Republic of Kinney, Paul plays guitars, harp, some bass and sings whilst other musicians add further bass, drums, euphonium on one track and French horn on another. The record was produced by Rich Mattson and mastered by Tom Garneau.
Opening and title track The Republic of Kinney enters in gentle acoustic fashion before settling into the tracks groove, pushed along by some great drums and bumping bass. Paul Seeba has a fine modern country - roots type voice, sitting somewhere between Tom Petty and a tuneful Bob Dylan, whilst the band's vibe captures something of Buffalo Tom, Wilco and that Alt Country feel. The song itself tells the tale of a small village in Northern Minnesota that threatened to secede from the United States in the late 70's. Not that the subject matter bogs the song down and in fact illustrates Paul's skill in taking weighty topics and treating them with a very light hand.
Penelope Baby follows and is an altogether dreamier affair with a lovely off kilter feel that hints at Steely Dan whilst Blue Moon Rising puts Paul Seeba's vocal back to the fore.
Track four Amber Glows, a tale of addiction, is one of my favourite songs on the album, rattling through on a relentless guitar strum and another fine vocal from Paul that at times put me in mind of Michael Stipe with its pleading intensity.
Later in the album, Lizzie Borden's Sister boasts an opening riff John Hiatt would be proud of and then veers over into Chuck Berry circa Johnny B Goode territory, all in a rumbustious first 30 seconds. Great fun!
The album draws to a close with three strong tracks. The courtly pace of Runaway Truck Ramp, my favourite song on the album, the insistent, nagging Dollar Lake and the acoustic reflections of Wedding Premonition.
This record is full of well-written songs that take on some profound topics, but never at the expense of accessibility or a decent tune! It's all recorded with an organic, earthy feel that for me conjured up that delightfully shambolic sound of early Bob Dylan and The Band. Factor in a very distinctive voice and this really is a product that stands out from the crowd.
|Adrian & Meredith: More Than A Little||Gary Innes: E R A|
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