Two weeks ago I wrote about a brother-sister folk duo from Texas. This week, we’re back to brother-sister folk duos. But this time, we travel to Michigan, to a very different folk sound: Thirty Steps to Forward, not to be confused with 30 Seconds to Mars.
Siblings Seth and Gretchen Powers released their second album, Hinterland this past March, and describe it as “a collection of songs revolving around the tangled wilderness of human frailty.” Sounding heavily influenced by Irish folk music, their music is soothing for the mind, body and soul. Gretchen’s vocals are both fragile and powerful and accompanied by a slew of instruments including guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, harmonica, piano and cello, and of course what kind of sibling duo would they be without harmonies. Even though Gretchen is undoubtedly the lead vocalist, her brother Seth’s harmonies compliment her voice and their music wonderfully.
I particularly liked the song “Alice”, the third track on the album, which sums up Alice in Wonderland beautifully in just a few short lyrics. Starting off with a similar idea to White Rabbit by the Jefferson Airplane, but instead of being a psychedelic song about drugs, this song is makes a metaphor for life. The other song that really struck me is the shortest track on the album, “The Archer’s Son,” which also features backing vocals from Seth
Each song walks the line between being very different than and very similar to the last. The songs need to be listened to closely, and intently, or they sound too similar and we run the risk of getting bored. But I assure you, if you do listen closely, you’ll find a team of beautifully wise, soulful spirits who can weave some of the greatest stories.
It’s truly incredible. As I sit here in my backyard writing this, listening to the album for the third or fourth time, I’m watching a calm breeze move the leaves in the trees around me. A bird landed maybe ten feet from me and just sort of stared at me, blissfully. Flies and other insects seeming in complete harmony with the world. The world is a beautiful place, and somehow this music really brings that out.
Take this album, some sort of device to play it on, and a pair of headphones, not earbuds, but headphones, and bring it outside with you and immerse yourself in it, you won’t regret it. Below you’ll find a live video of “Minors and Majors Of You” and a music video for “The Bird and the Fool,” the title track off their first album.
Finally, a personal request, it completely baffles me that his band only has 40 “likes” on Facebook, please help me to fix that by clicking here.