Three Person Orchestra Furious Seasons Melodically Intrigue on “Now Residing Abroad” (ALBUM REVIEW)

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Furious Seasons is a three-person orchestra, releasing their second album, Now Residing Abroad as a trio and the sixth under the band’s name. Leader, singer-songwriter David Steinhart has been a mainstay in folk-pop circles in L.A. for over 30 years, having founded Pop Art in 1984 and Smart Brown Handbag in 1993. The Furious Seasons was formed in 2008, originally as a larger unit but operating now with Steinhart’s brother Jeff on upright bass and Paul Nelson on guitars and harmonies.

At times The Furious Seasons acoustic sound is smooth, restrained and poppy but closer listens reveal an edginess and a soul that Steinhart describes as “husky yet melodic.” There are jazz overtones as well. Lyrically they have an understated wit, usually in stories about L.A. or the passage of time but there are also some cleverly disguised political statements framed in romantic songs. The opening track “Expo Line” embodies the theme of time passing, that you’re ultimately alone in life and some existential questioning about your place with this representative lyric, “Feels like the elevator just dropped a dozen flights- Now I’m invisible in the plain daylight.”

While most of the songs are done in 6/8 time, you’ll notice that “Tethered” sounds different as the band experimented in 4/4. It was done this way perhaps to give these lyrics an emphatic feel – “The days of relative calm/ Gave way to a season of storms/With less to fall back on /Deposed from our comfortable norms.”

The album title came the song “The Loyal Canadians.” This is the most overtly political song as it contemplates moving to Canada or Mexico due to the recent election. Steinhart says, “Ultimately, this is a song about the disappointment and fear surrounding the redefinition of what it means to be American in the age of Trump.” He cites the closing one and half instrumental piece as his favorite on the album as the trio builds to the manifestation of the coming storm he sings about in the prior verse.

While most of the album was recorded live with few overdubs, two songs required additional effects. “The Muse,” written by Paul Nelson, has a huge infectious chorus and George Harrison like slide solo. Nelson comments, “We did a ton of overdubbed vocals in the studio and made a version with a minute plus acapella intro and two-minute outro. In the end, we decided that it overpowered the song and settled on a Beach Boys-esque ending.” The closing track “Come to L.A.” has the solo parts played considerably faster than the vocal parts on purpose in keeping with the song’s theme about the chaos of divorce.

The chemistry of the trio is palpable and intimate. The upright bass is present but never overbearing. Nelson handles most of the guitar soloing but also plays in tandem with Steinhart’s guitar excursions. With David Steinhart handling the lead vocals, Nelson uses an array of guitars including resonators, electrics, and acoustics to paint soundscapes and textures to form the perfect backdrop for the lead and harmony vocals.

The Furious Seasons are easy to listen to but don’t be fooled. There’s an intricacy in the lyrics and the musicianship that becomes more apparent with each listen.

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