Randy Steele

REVIEW: Randy Steele “High Cold Wind”


Randy Steele – High Cold Wind – EP

This 5-song all-original EP collection runs only 14 minutes. But this is a wonderful introduction to a piece of old-fashioned country music (not C&W) & bluegrass mix that has new life emanating from the voice of firefighter Randy Steele. An award-winning banjo-picking singer-songwriter from Tennessee who reeks of energy & personality throughout this set.

Randy Steele (banjo/vocals) is not an old man, but he has that unmistakable authoritative voice that was born to people like Ralph Stanley & Roy Clark. All five tunes are worthy but “Nashville Drinking Song,” featuring Emmylou Harris-style backup vocals by the dependable fiddle sawing Faye Petree (absolutely wonderful). This song smokes with Randy’s Levon Helm-tinged vocal had Levon stayed in Arkansas.

The set is a fun listen because that’s what the music demands. Bluegrass is country with a B-12 shot. Technically, the EP is a self-titled effort & High Cold Wind is Steele’s band name. But the self-produced High Cold Wind EP (Drops Aug 25–Independent). “It Happened,” has a rollicking drive & then suddenly ends. There is nothing hokey about these tunes – they’re rendered with authority & if they were cake – they’d be tasty.

Then comes the relatively short & simple percussive/banjo-led little tune “A Golden Smile,” that’s over before you know it. (The tune is about Randy’s memory of his own self-doubt when first dating his wife of 22 years).

It’s followed by the barn-burning full-throttle, black smoke spewing, steam whistlin’ hot “Eight Thirty Eighteen.” Owls will be chasin’ mice, corks will be poppin’ & yes, some colorful language will be flying. With five musicians it sounds like a full band at a barn dance.

The opening tune finds Randy Steele singing in a more country & western vintage style. Lyrics that could’ve come from the pen of the late Johnny Horton & sung by the late Jim Reeves. It’s a good country-style ballad with a slight parallel vocal by Faye. It makes an average song sound even more expressive. They should sing a duet together someday.

Musicians – John Boulware (mandolin), Tyler Martelli (guitar/vocals) & Justin Hupp (upright bass).

Highlights – “Nashville Drinking Song,” “There’s a Part of Me,” A Golden Smile,” “It Happened” & “Eight Thirty Eighteen.”

CD photo & color image by Mandy Rhoden & Zoe Bews. CD @ https://www.randysteelemusic.com/

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