Review: Youngest Son – All Saints’ Day (2012)
The independent music world, despite being saturated to its ever rising maximum (or so it seems) is smaller than you would think. One need look no further than Youngest Son, the project of Steve Slagg. Steve and I share the privilege of being graduates of the esteemed Wheaton College outside of Chicago, IL. Not only does the brains behind Youngest Son and the founder of this site share a beloved alma mater, but both of us have associated with Columbus based Sovroncourt (I having done press for them, and Steve having performed with them).
Wheaton College has quite a promising music scene for a small campus that has a distinction of being, some would argue, a victim of the Christian bubble. Alumni are currently involved in projects such as Chicago’s indie rock band Mooner, Austin’s alternative/surf rock/indie band Tiger Waves, and this project, Youngest Son. What does Youngest Son sound like? Let me assure you that Steve Slagg is much more multi dimensional than the typical wannabe singer-songwriter scrounging for media attention for their (more likely than not) mediocre acoustic music. His project might be the best project submitted to I AM TUNED UP with under 1000 likes on Facebook this year. His sound is essentially a refined hybrid of Iron and Wine and Sufjan Stevens.
The album is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, with enough variety to hold the listener in a relaxed, introspective mood. Just enough quirkiness is thrown in to allow the listener to enjoy himself every once in awhile (and give the impression that Slagg is having fun too). The production and mix of the record is so good that if this music were presented to me blind without any background whatsoever I would have guessed this to be a new addition to the esteemed SubPop or Asthmatic Kitty Records rosters. Youngest Son’s music has been described as having a liturgical feel, which I feel is apparent in hindsight. Let me explain what I mean – “liturgical” isn’t a word that often appears in the music journalism vernacular, or the average fan’s for that matter. “When I See You,” with its meditative yet deep lyrics (and repetition) distinctly allows this feel to emerge. Americana-folk influences come forward in songs like “Untitled Memory Song” and piano driven hooks drive “Think About Your Troubles” and “The Long Year.” The former actually reminds me of The Shepherd’s Dog era Iron and Wine (“The Devil Never Sleeps,” anyone?). Serene moments are aplenty, as in the instrumental “Marty and the Leonids” which, with its Celtic influence would fit well on the film to any soundtrack in the JRR Tolkien inspired canon. And the lyrics! No shortage of inspiration there…but for this I’ll let you listen for yourself. In short, Youngest Son is a bonafide diamond in the rough – take notice now! Don’t wait for him to get popular.