By: Sterling Martin
What do you know about folkstep? Nothing? Everything?
Producer Keeplove?, the originator of the term, has the only explanation you need—and it comes in the form of his debut album Northernways. By combining guitar samples, various electronic components and his rustic voice, the artist has birthed a completely new style.
The album’s first track, titled “Lovehasadifferentsound,” kicks things off in proper motion. A daunting, drawn-out intro can be heard at first, before eventually easing into a mixture of heavy bass, echoing vocals and surprising bliss.
“Love We Gained” is one of the more laid-back installments, and features Super Best Records label head Michal Menert. A simple acoustic guitar base carries the track through a range of interesting climbs.
Pushing up the tempo and energy is “Live Dangerously.” We got one of our first real impressions of Keeplove? when this one was released as a single a few months ago. It’s catchy and will have you repeating the lyrics in your head for days.
A few of the tracks, or pieces of the tracks, are experimental and may seem inaccessible, simply because the sound isn’t familiar. Although “No Other” begins in this unexplainable mannerr, Dave Samano’s genius still shines through, creating a powerful song full of twists and emotion. His voice has the pain of reality and brings an authenticity to everything he touches.
“MICHIGAN” continues with a similar momentum, showing off the “step” side of his “folkstep” mantra. A duet with Hannah Samano can be found throughout the entire song, their voices ultimately bringing balance to one another.
In the versatile “After Dark,” a few progressions that all reunite by the end will have you at the edge of your chair—inevitably shaking your head to the groove. A smile is inevitable as well, as “Burned Out” gets underway. This one uses multiple guitar samples and a quick tempo to grab the listener, just as Northernways nears the end.
“Hurt Somehow” is hypnotizing. Soothing vocals backed by layers of guitar samples is a characteristic of each, but in a few like this track, the lack of electronic elements make for a distinctive, even more original sound.
The magic of Keeplove?’s entire folkstep sound can be found especially in “OneOneOneOne.” Much like the album itself, this song will take you on a journey of unexpected grooves and combatting emotions.
Keeplove? is extremely talented at playing around with time signatures and changes in pace as well, which was noticeable just a few songs into the release. Folk vibes resonate on couple of the songs from Northernways, one of which being “It’s Easy.” With the help of Clark Smith, Leah Concialdi, as well as Pretty Fantastics bandmates Will Glazier and Dan de Lisle of Willdabeast and Matt Van Den Heuvel, this track will leave you lost and confused—yet perfectly content.
The fusion of genres is truly something special, from the bass and samples to the bluegrass vibes, which was previously unexplored territory before Northernways was launched.
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