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Music Review - 'Flight Risk` by Shoebox Letters (jh)

Shoebox Letters -  Flight Risk (click on image to watch video)

16 May 2022 


Within a mere twenty minutes and a half dozen songs, the Portland, OR foursome Shoebox Letters continues to prove they know their way around a song. Leader and co-founder Dennis Winslow is the main songwriter, having penned or co-written all but one of the 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. Susan Lowery contributes harmony vocals on “A World Out There.” Guest Brian David Willis fills in on numerous instruments and is the writer for the pulsating rocker “I Drink Too Much” and the co-writer on “Bed of Roses.” 

The defining element of their sound is the lush three (or four) part harmonies heard in Winslow’s tunes. In the ‘70s, we would have branded this bucolic style country rock. The opener features the dulcet tones of Cox singing with Winslow and backed with harmonies from Paul and Stricker as the guitar reverberate convincingly. The aforementioned “I Drink Too Much” may be the most rambunctious, levels up rock the band has ever laid down. “Up and Down,” though is more characteristic of their past work, a gentle harmonious folk tune, imbued with terrific pedal steel from Stricker and keys from Winslow, as if the music just refreshingly washes over the listener, it’s and ideal pandemic song with its chorus “one step at a time.”  Cox breaks out on “Red Handed in Love,” soaring above muscular guitars and animated backgrounds.  Back and forth we go, with “A Bed of Roses” settling into their textured, soothing approach.  Cox and Winslow sing yearningly on “A World Out There,” with Willis providing searing lap steel. 

Shoebox Letter is the essence of Americana, marrying country, folk, and rock with superior harmonies and impressive textures.  They deserve wider recognition, and one senses it won’t be long before they are a staple on the diminishing number of stations and outlets that program quality music. 


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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