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Steel Blossoms duo release “Revenge” single

A makeshift funeral. A look of pure hatred. The delicate play of country twosome Steel Blossoms. A confrontation and, ultimately, a justified conclusion. In the music video for “Revenge,” the latest single from Steel Blossoms’ lauded first album, the imagery is jarring, unapologetically discomforting, ominous and chilling. The colors are seemingly washed out of every shot, while the non-speaking actors in a seething story of reprisal are clinical and cold. The music in the background is the only vitality that we find in the entirety of the video, but within its aching melodies, there is little catharsis to be found. “Revenge” is Steel Blossoms unfiltered, unafraid and angst-ridden to no end, and in my opinion, it is unquestionably the most powerful piece they’ve attached their moniker to.

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The brutal essence of the music video aside, this really is one of the most intriguing compositions on the eponymous Steel Blossoms LP. It borrows its vocal harmony and volatile violin part from Kentucky bluegrass, its simplistic guitar picking from Appalachian folk, and its artistic structure from contemporary alternative country, but nothing about the song speaks to me as being a deliberate hybridity. If anything, I think that this duo was probably trying to present us with as authentic and barebones a ballad as they could from an instrumental point of view, and with regards to the lyricism, their intentions are found to be both poetic and marvelously poignant given the current social climate in the United States. In addition to all of this, “Revenge” is unpolished in spirit but packaged with a nice studio varnish, which isn’t always the case with the music I hear from new blood in the country underground.

There’s not any excess for me to get annoyed with in this track, but I would be lying if I said that both the song and the music video, on some levels, weren’t difficult for me to digest. The video is so bluntly dark and disturbingly synchronized with every echoing word that Steel Blossoms sing, and even when we’re listening to the single all by itself, it’s pretty hard to get away from the sense of impending doom that the harmony creates (particualry towards the end of the song). It comes at us from every angle, and for being as simple and black and white a composition as it is, that’s really saying something about the band’s depth as performers.

While its parent album is a bit more conventionally virtuosic than “Revenge” is, this is one single that is as spot-on as they come if you like postmodern country with a strong bluegrass influence. Steel Blossoms has got a very positive reception from the press and serious audiences around the country this year, and if you’re curious about the duo’s overall sound and skillset, this would be the song I’d recommend playing first. It’s not necessarily representative of their complete style of play from top to bottom (mostly because they’ve got such a progressively diverse approach to making music), but it’s the one track from their virgin album that I would deem among the best I’ve heard all year.

Mindy McCall

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