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Music Review - `I’m Into Now` by Shoebox Letters (lz)

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

 29 January 2020



Portland’s Shoebox Letters has achieved a modest modicum of recognition over the course of a career that encompasses more than a dozen albums and various accompanying EPs. They come about their craft quite naturally; the band’s leader, chief singer and songwriter Dennis Winslow was once a well-regarded staff writer on Nashville’s Music Row in the early ‘90s before finding his calling scoring film and television. It’s a trade he continues to pursue. However once he founded Shoebox Letters in 2009 alongside the band’s bassist Dave Strickler, he found a new calling and happily, the band’s prolific prowess has found them on a steady roll ever since.

More than ten years on, the band continues to make music with a trademark authenticity and assurance that’s deeply rooted in essential Americana. It’s no surprise then that their new effort, I’m Into Now, an eight-song EP, or mini-album — however one chooses to perceive it — conveys their core creativity by way of an easily identifiable sound and an affable down-home demeanor. Their roots remain obvious — the Byrds, the Burrito Brothers, and Pure Prairie League are easily identifiable influences — but the songs are still the prime ingredient, as they have been in each of their efforts up until now. There’s no shortage of hummable hooks — “Turn to Stone, “People In Love” and the title track being the prime examples — but even when they lower the lights and slow the tempo, the amiable ambiance never falters. “I Drink for Two” and “Running” offers all the evidence needed, their easy sway and calming caress providing further soothing sentiment to the album overall. 

Ultimately then, the band’s ability to craft such a seductive series of mainstream melodies remains the essence of its appeal. Though flash and frenzy seem to be prime qualities when it comes to making music these days, Shoebox Letters prove they’re capable of holding their own regardless. Its title aside, I’m Into Now shows a distinct reverence for an old-fashioned formula, one that pivots on songcraft overall. In that regard, there’s no doubt that Shoebox Letter continues to communicate quite convincingly.


 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

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