Simon Linsteadt

National Release Date: Jan. 21st,  2016

album cover Simon Linsteadt  

Recognized in 2015 as an “emerging talent on the Americana music scene” whose “flat-picked guitar is up there with the big boys” (Marin Independent Journal, Northern Sky Magazine), there singer-songwriter and guitarist Simon Linsteadt’s first two albums with San Francisco band Steep Ravine (The Pedestrian, 2015, and Trampin’ On, 2013) racked up high praise for their “highly crafted tunes awash with catchy hooks” and “vocals suffused with intimacy and emotional heft” (Folkwords, No Depression). Now with the release of his debut solo album Simon Linsteadt, he delivers a fresh batch of tunes that hone in even closer on his melodic song craft and intricate guitar work.

As with the Steep Ravine records, Linsteadt returned to Tiny Telephone’s analog recording studio in San Francisco, where he worked under the skillful and familial guidance of engineer, mix-master, and producer Jacob Winik (Samantha Crain). Linsteadt performed these 12 songs live in the studio, unadorned, with just voice and acoustic guitar. Subtle brush strokes of vibraphone, lap steel, piano, and vocal harmonies were contributed later, creating sparse atmospheric arrangements.

The mood on most of the twelve tracks circles around a questioning state of mind, at once restless and contemplative, vivid and impressionistic, poetic and playful. Linsteadt’s smooth visceral vocals surf upon his trademark guitar style, which fuses bluegrass-inspired cross-picking with a gentle, folk-laden attitude, the occasional jazz chunking, and a side of thwacking.

The lead-off track “Half Moonlit Mood” captures a bout of midnight restlessness, emerging from a dream beneath an eerie half moon. “The Sentinel” is a playful jazz-tinged, semi-fictitious recount of an embarrassing news article. “Ft. Bragg” wordlessly paints the haunting mood of a Northern California landscape. The gentle rising and falling melody entangles itself with shape-shifting guitar harmony, like seaweed in a troubled tide. “Time & Again” is a love song of sorts about an old Martin D-28 guitar, with a rooted bluegrass feel and resilient flatpicking leads. “Trampin On” is a reworked no-frills version of the title track from Steep Ravine’s debut album.

On Linsteadt’s solo album he explores the nuances of his dynamics as a vocalist and guitarist, in a contrastive yet intersecting manner to his work with Steep Ravine. The result is an intimate portrait of the consummate musician, adding to Linsteadt’s growing recognition as a songwriting tour-de-force.