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Music Review - `I'm into Now` by Shoebox Letters (jh)

Shoebox Letters -  I'm into Now (click on image to watch video)

19 February 2020 


Shoebox Letters is a Pacific Northwest band that began over a decade ago. As such, they have a considerable output with more than a dozen albums and various EPs. I’m Into Now, with its eight songs fall somewhere in between, maybe a mini-album is the term. Leader and co-founder Dennis Winslow is the main songwriter, having penned or co-written all tunes. He’s a multi-instrumentalist joined by fellow versatile musician Greg Paul, co-founder, and bassist Dave Stricker and vocalist Stephanie Cox. All three of the musicians have impressive resumes with Winslow having a background as a staff writer in Nashville and a writer for films and television, which he continues to do. Stricker has played with many of the great musicians in Portland and Paul is also an engineer and producer who works in film, television, and theater. He has also recorded with notable artists Dave Alvin, Amy Farris, and Alejandro Escovedo, to name a few. Guest Brian David Willis fills in on numerous instruments.

The music lies somewhere between folk-rock, roots-rock and Americana, solid songcraft with an emphasis on hooks, and three-four part harmonies.  It’s eminently listenable. All songs are in the three-minute range, several with radio-friendly, singalong choruses. Despite the title which may convey a more contemporary approach, their music would be as appropriate for the country-rock fare of the early ‘70s as it is now. This band is more about textures and soothing ambiance; don’t expect fiery guitar-slinging solos or gritty, edgy spots. Their sound, even when pushing the tempo a bit as they do on “Please You,” is the essence of mellow restraint. 

Shoebox Letters is best with the dialed-down, slower reflective storytelling songs. Along with “Please You,” “Running,” “I Drink for Two,” and “Turn to Stone” are standouts, Yet, the interplay and the vocal tune from Cox in “Last Night’s Lie” are also impressive. No doubt, this is melodic, caressing material that in decades past may have been called soft rock.  No matter the label, these are well-constructed songs that should have you humming along.



Jim Hynes



Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here




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