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The Stevenson Ranch Davidians - “Amerikana” (2017) review

The Stevenson Ranch Davidians - Amerikana (Picture In My Ear, 2017)

Landing nearly nine years after their last outing Life & Death, the album Amerikana [another play on words for Americana] takes a decidedly more electronic and aggressive posture, seeming to put their dreamy song structure far behind them, though still deeply rooted in the realm of neo-psychedelia.

With Dwayne Seagrave, the man behind the wheel of The Stevenson Ranch Davidians saying, I wanted this album to come off as a celebration of the indomitable human spirit and all that goes against it. That quote sounds vaguely familiar, as The Jefferson Airplane/ Jefferson Starship rallied that same concept in the heady 60’s, even referring to America as Amerika, where they envisioned a world where there was no war, other than with the ‘establishment’, where the youth of this nation would come together to create a utopian society of goodness and love. And to that end, the album does sound more expansive, wide open, and embracive than their highly introspective release Life & Death.

The album is laced with delicious harmonies, but it’s their use of an understated folk guitar that adds the warmth to the record, keeping the spaciousness in check, though there’s no doubt about Seagrave wishing to instill more ecstatic revelations, with the realistic fantasy landscape of the cover belaying how so many Americans viewed this nation prior to its mapping and population. What this leaves listeners with is a duality of spaciousness and intimacy … or perhaps, an intimate spaciousness most suitable for exploration with a dose of lysergic, and while you many not walk away from this album remembering it emotionally, you will feel that you’ve been part of something greater than the whole.

- Jenell Kesler
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