When the US and most of the world shut down due to COVID19 earlier this year, the furthest thing from everyone’s mind was the record labels. We had jobs to worry about, the well-being of our loved ones, what was gonna happen to us? Seeing as music is often our escape from the trappings of life, people likely propped our consumerism way in the back of their minds. However, for indie artists and labels, the virus and shut-down was a direct issue of their own personal jobs, the well-being of their loved ones and their unknown fate! As things are slowly coming back around and most of us see how those artists and labels aren’t much different to themselves. This may be one of the most important elements of Soul Step Records‘ latest release. Frontier Folk Nebraska and William Matheny‘s split single Blackhorse/Mind For Leaving.
Chunking slightly distorted guitar rhythm and declaring the road-weary motif for over a minute, Frontier Folk Nebraska paints a melancholy picture of hungover self-discovery on Side A’s “Blackhorse”. By the time the full band joins in, the listener’s fists are raised and they’re singing along to the top of their lungs. As the song progresses it sounds like the musical equivalent of driving your car as fast as it can go with the windows down. Running straight from the heartache you’ve endured over the years, or straight to it.
Side B’s “Mind For Leaving” by William Methany is on the other side of the spectrum. As a clean guitar picks and pops above a glassy organ, Methany uses subtle, yet poetic antidotes to claim ownership of a relationship on the verge of its final curtain. Instead of self-serving or justifying bad behavior, he calls himself out and understands how calling it quits may be the healthiest solution. “Every mountain has two valleys and we walk through the darkness on our own” Methany starts the chorus sounding eerily like a young Tom Petty. “Everyone is all together and its worse than being alone.” he finishes with an all-knowing awareness.
While being aesthetically indifferent, both tracks from Frontier Folk Nebraska and William Methany two wings of the same bird. We can run straight on into our problems young and recklessly or we can claim ownership and let the chips fall where they may. Either way, the problem is seeing a solution in the best way the artist knows how. In a strange meta way, it’s almost a mirror image of how society is trying to pick up the pieces and find some sort of normalcy. Bringing the point home is the fact this is the first release from Soul Step Records to be pressed post-quarantine. This could be my own romanticism talking, but this release feels triumphant like coming out on the other side of a really dark chapter. Who knows what the future holds but like FFN and Methany, I’m gonna clenched my fists and draw a card.
Blackhorse/Mind For Leaving is available on limited edition vinyl exclusively at Soul Step Records.