Review: Steady Hands, ‘Tropical Depression’
Can I just take a second to talk about how Modern Baseball’s “Your Graduation” is very easily a top ten song for me? I knew it from the jump. This was the song that gave me my first taste of Sean Huber’s vocals and what eventually lead to an interest in a band that he fronts called Steady Hands. I probably should have caught the reference in “Re-Done” but I’m not going to pretend like I dove beyond the surface of ‘Sports’ here. Alas, I am not James Cassar, and with that, I am done talking about Modern Baseball.
‘Tropical Depression’ isn’t my first Steady Hands release, but it is my first full band experience with the name. I’m very happy to report that not much has changed. Other than a more full-bodied sound, the qualities that made me fall in love with Steady Hands are still very much alive and well. There’s a quality to Huber’s voice that sounds distinctly American. It’s the same quality that can be attributed to the one and only Bruce Springsteen. He’s not changing any lives with his vocals, but there’s a very blue collar feel to them that has the everyman appeal, making this a release that has the potential to feel tangible to people outside of the scene. These are songs you could listen to with your dad and the two of you could just nod your heads in a unanimous “this fucking rules.”
Steady Hands has claimed the folk-punk genre, but I’m not buying it. There’s an obvious blues influence that bleeds through and only helps solidify that distinctly American sound. Steady Hands is an Americana band through and through. The best example of this comes from “Grace.” Jammy guitars and frantic keys bring the track to a start before we’re greeted with Huber’s most grandiose and emotional vocal delivery on the EP. The track feels like a narrative – a story that Huber felt compelled to tell, and it paid off tremendously. The last time I heard a song like this, I was right around eight years old and I had just heard “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” for the first time.
“Won’t Let You” highlights Huber’s vocals. It is a piano ballad that’s planted right in the middle of ‘Tropical Depression’ and it feels very comfortably at home there. With nothing more than a piano backing Huber, you can’t help but to feel the vulnerability of the track. The same scene plays in my head every time I listen to this song. It’s a bar scene, the male lead has had just a little too much to drink and is feeling bad about an argument had with the female lead. He walks over to the jukebox, picks “Won’t Let You” by Steady Hands and with all of the drunken remorse of the world, sings every word to the female lead. It adds a little more charm to a track that was already chock full of it.
All in all, ‘Tropical Depression’ is a solid EP. Each of the four songs shine really well in their own light and still manage to work together and create a record that works cohesively. Steady Hands just keeps getting better and better, and I’ll be the first to tell you that I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys become a bonafide rock-n-roll favorite in the near future. A string of solid EP’s has me begging for that debut album though. I can’t wait to hear the next step in their progression. I’m sure it’s going to fucking rule.