Somewhere between awesome and cool, Stewboss has always been about road trips, dreams, favorite songs, wanting to meet girls, meeting girls, losing girls, missing girls, and wanting to get back with girls – all while doing a really serious head bob to a wicked ass groove that screams for more cowbell. It’s an approach that works for them – partly because of the passion and sincerity that come with the deeply felt sentiments – and partly because of the wicked ass grooves. As far as I can tell, wicked ass grooves have never hurt anyone, except possibly the odd groin injury.
The first release from Stewboss in 2001, Wanted, A Girl, was a critically-acclaimed gem. Filled with tales of broken hearts (“Fill Station”), true love (“Heaven of Mine”), and kickin’ road trips (“Let’s Go For A Ride”), it was a great debut. The record sprang from raw emotions and determination, and blended strong hooks with intelligent lyrics.
Sweet Lullabye, released in 2002, followed a similar approach but kicked it up a notch. It featured more diverse instrumentation, including cello and mandolin. It also rocked harder – notably “Counting To 7 At Your Old Barstool (Time)”- and included an insufficient but quite tasty bit of cow bell (“A Little Goes a Long Way”). Included was another kickin’ road trip song (“Let’s Go To Texas”), plus a poignant ballad (“Up That Wrinkled Street”) about an adult wanting to recover the values and perspectives he had as a child.
I want to love like him
I want to laugh like him
I want to see the world the way he sees
Before he became me
And then 2004 saw the band release The Places We Meet. The first two tracks are especially strong. “Always How It Starts” laments the difficulties of living your dreams, backed by horns (horns!) and sweet backing vocals.
Well it’s the price that you pay
For coming to a place where you can’t stay.
“Losing A Girl” is a classic Stewboss “break up” rocker. Featuring hooks so strong they really have no place in this decade, and lyrics that everyone has lived/suffered, for me this is the strongest track on the disc. (But it could use some cow bell).
So sorry…the only words that you can say
So I let you walk away clean
You don’t need me
Told you that when we first met
Now everybody’s staring at me
And it’s achin’ like I don’t belong
And it’s hard for me to feel this strong
You don’t know me now.
Other great songs cover familiar Stewboss territory: tracks about having a crush on a girl (“Your Street”), wanting to get back with a girl (“Come On Take Me Back”), and hoping to get your life back on track (“Distant Angel” and “Warm Rain”).
This record conjures thoughts of times when music was fun and hooks were large and in your face. There are no political songs. And while I love political songs and of course it’s important for art to comment on society, there are times when I really need to be free from the problems, the flip flops, the worries, and the bullshit. Sometimes, I need to feel less complicated than that. Sometimes, the places we meet and the good times we need are here and now. Highly recommended.