Of Roots & Restlessness
Bryan Steel's music, much like the man himself, is rooted in the red-clay southland of his birth. Of Roots and Restlessness, his debut album, recounts the trials and errors of a well-spent youth, set in the rich landscape of a Flannery O'Connor story. Listeners will recognize the musical influences of Bill Mallonee and a young Bruce Springsteen; and his vocal style is an amalgamation of Neil Young, Jakob Dylan, and Johnny Cash. Of Roots and Restlessness rests comfortably in the quiet space between southern rock and the folk music that inspired so much of it's aesthetic. It will surely move the careful listener - not so much to get up and dance as to stand up and walk, if only for a mile, in this young man's shoes. Born in Alabama and raised in the Old Line State, Bryan has faced more trouble than most people have sidestepped - and he has the heart to tell us all the tales. With an eloquence that rivals anyone on the singer-songwriter/Americana scene, he weaves his stories into a beautiful and haunting picture of life and death, love and loss, sin and redemption. Of Roots and Restlessness takes listeners on a journey through these themes, but not in some vague way that leaves a detached sense of association by guilt. Quite the opposite. Bryan's storytelling is subject-driven and thematically colored, so each song tells of vivid details painted with broad but precise brushstrokes. Many people attempt to shield either their faith from the world or the world from their faith. Others wear their beliefs like a badge or a hard-hat. For Bryan, Faith is both the lens through which he sees all things and the light by which the things are seen. Bryan developed his live performance skills in the Baltimore bar scene, playing bagpipes in local punk band Tripolar Disorder, and mandolin for Irish-emo-folk band One on None. Around the same time, he played acoustic sets at coffee houses in historic Ellicott City to develop the quieter persona revealed in his debut record. His instrumental work on of Roots and Restlessness runs the gamut from guitar, mandolin, banjo and bass to keyboards, harmonica.