September 15, 2009

Review: The Bear, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers

Last week saw the release of Stephen Kellogg and the Sixer's latest release, The Bear. It's been a couple of years since their last album, The Glassjaw Boxer, a fun listen, but with this release, there are some good indications of growth for the group. The Bear is easily their best album to date.

The Bear was produced by Tom Schick, who has previously worked with acts such as Norah Jones, Ryan Adams and Rufus Wainwright, as well as Sam Kassirer, who's worked with Josh Ritter, and it shows. There is a toned down country feel to a number of the songs, leading me to be reminded of Josh Ritter's last album, The Historical Consquests of Josh Ritter - fans of Ritter would do good to aquaint themselves with the Sixers.

The album opens with the title track, The Bear and flows nicely into A (With Love) before kicking into higher gear with my favorite track of the album, Shady Esperanto and The Young Hearts, an energetic and telling song about growing old and the wonders of youth. Followup tracks such as See Yourself, Oh Adeline, Dying Wish of a Teenager, All Part of the Show, Do and Mabeline alternatively carry the energy and softer elements through the course of the album. There is energy and focus throughout the album, which adds to the entire listening experience immensely.

What really stands out for The Bear, however, is not just the sound, but the stories. In the finest of country-rock tradition, each song really tells a story: A (With Love) looks to a young, single mother from a tired past, Shady Esperanto and The Young Hearts runs all over the idea of aging, Dying Wish of a Teenager deals with someone moving on, Mabeline talks about a man caught up with a woman and their crime spree, and so on. This gives the album a really fun edge, and gives it something far more than most pop albums out there: weight and thought after listening.

It's an album that sounds good, with fantastic lyrics, style and energy. I've found it to be the perfect one to drive along country roads with, singing along.

The Bear is now avaliable everywhere, while the Sixers are currently on tour with Carbon Leaf.

Oh Adeline - Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers
Mabeline - Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers