Reality Check with KT: The Sleepin' Dogs grow wiser

The Sleepin’ Dogs grow wiser with second album, “Moon Over The Mountain”.

Okay, I’m going to publicly admit that when I was twenty I took a class to learn about astrology.  I’ve since realized that, for me, it’s just a distraction and can actually limit me, so I no longer read horoscopes or put much stock into it. But, I am a definite believer in cycles, like the moon’s effect on human beings and one other thing I learned about in astrology class, Saturn’s Return.  Basically the planet Saturn returns to the place it was at the moment of your birth sometime around your 28th year on earth. When this happens significant changes or even upheaval tends to happen, causing a lot of soul searching and assessing one’s life. I’m leading with this because of the album I’ve been listening to by local Alt Country band, The Sleepin’ Dogs.

The guys; Randy Steffen, Joe Seiter, Adam Record and Zac Rowe, come from out on 12 mile in California, Kentucky and I recently wrote and recorded a song with them for my “Sacred Harp Sessions”. We filmed a beautiful video out there which is due out annnny minute now. I do know these boys and I’ve been gigging with them for the past 3 years or so. When I first checked them out they were releasing their first album, “Love Takes Its Toll”. This first album was basically a collection of everything that had been written over about a ten year period. About half written here between gigs and a handful were written by Randy Steffen, singer and guitarist, during his short move to Nashville. The fact that the writing was spread out over so many years gave the album a little bit of a disconnected feel. Some of the songs felt like they were from novices while at the same time there were a few real gems that stood out. Regardless, it was a good first effort and got the band some new fans. That first album also carved out a distinct sound. I think it’s due in part to the great melodies that never fail to build and go to some sonically great place, and I think due in part to the distinct three part harmonies that are a staple to the Dog’s songs. These guys grew up together and went to school together. The singing is almost family-like harmonies.

So, those years, when Saturn makes its return…Life is changing. Folks are getting married, or figuring out if they ever want to get married or have kids? There’s typically some significant losses by this time as well, relationships, friends, relatives.  What do I want? Who am I? Are frequent questions you struggle through.  You’ve had enough time to really screw some stuff up too.  It’s a time of deep reflection and hopefully, growth. And, it’s definitely a time that brings change in its wake, whether subtle or profound. I would be willing to bet that any songwriter that pens an album during this time will find it’s a very fertile time for songwriting. Consider what it may mean to a band that has been playing together since high school.

The new album’s lead track, “The Owl” is a not so subtle reference to wisdom. Unlike the first album, this new release was written over the course of one solid year and it really shows.  It plays like an album, each song filling in a piece of the puzzle. It gives a definite nod to where the band has come from with the first few tracks in the full country rock style that the band is known for.  I really like “Yours Truly”, the second cut of the album. It sounds like “classic” Sleepin’ Dogs with a catchy melody and those harmonies and lots of guitars woven into a great bed of sound.  “Golden” is another favorite in the big style.  It starts spare with just Randy and an acoustic guitar and then it leaps into an almost Cold Play groove that’s really nice. These songs are where the band and writing is coming from, but a few tracks later there’s a new sound developing and probably the stand out track on the album. “Pass It Through” is a haunting song with a cowboy sound. There’s a beautiful lap steele part but even with an added instrument this song is a great example of “less is more”. The final track of the album “Indian Summer” is an experiment in sound that again, is simpler. Zac Rowe, lead guitarist, actually added some very basic percussion to this tune giving it a big open sound. It’s not full band, just guitars, steel and that very sparse percussion and it really draws you into the open spaces.

If you haven’t seen these guys yet, I truly encourage you to get to their CD release. They really are a great live band and they will be playing all these new tunes. They are going to back off playing out a lot after the CD release to do some other things, so you should catch them while you can.  On a personal note, I’m really proud of their work on this new album. I definitely consider them friends and this album is quite an achievement!  Cheers guys

Sleepin’ Dogs CD Release at Southgate House Revival
Friday, September 13th in The Revival Room
with The Rooster’s Crow (Lexington) and Veronica Grim and The Blue Ribbon Boys
Door at 8, Music at 9
All Ages/$5 Cover