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Music Review - `Treasure Map` by Shoebox Letters (lz)

Shoebox Letters -- Treasure Map    (click on image to watch video)

 13 October 2020



Over the course of their more than ten year collective career, the Portland Oregon-based band known as Shoebox Letters has creeped ever closer to wider recognition with each successive effort. This able quartet — anchored by guitarist, keyboard player and vocalist Dennis Winslow, along with singer Susan Lowerty, steel guitar player and vocalist Greg Paul and bassist Dave Strickler — hew to an Americana approach that allows for perky up-tempo romps as well as heartfelt, heroic ballads, all while managing to maintain a sound that’s become their own.

Shoebox Letters’ newly released EP Treasure Map maintains that sturdy standard, and while there’s no variance from their template to speak of, their songwriting skills and tightly knit delivery reaffirms both their posture and prowess. Having enlisted drummer, percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Brian David Wills to supplement the sound, the six songs find the group on a steady roll with an acumen that’s obvious. It begins with the uptempo and down-home “Drinking More Without You,” notches things down — just a bit — with the title track, and then finds an easy groove with “Second Guessing,” before drifting into a mellower motif for the rest of the set. There’s a hint of melancholia evidenced on “First Step” (I pray for the strength..I pray for the courage…”), but it never slows the momentum entirely. “You’ve got to have faith.”

Winslow insists on the assertive song that follows, aptly titled “Wait and See.” “There something bigger out there, The universe still cares about you and me.” It’s a lesson in finding hope amidst the happenstance, making it advice well worth heeding. That leaves it to the last track, “I’m No Good at Walking Away,” to bring it all around, an anthem of reaffirmation that suggests even in these troubled times, perseverance is needed. The testimony may be directed towards a partner in a crumbling relationship, but the insistent stance offers indication that the singer is committed to the cause. For that reason alone, it serves as a reminder that while hard times can cause consternation, there’s reason to resist rather than retreat. Ultimately then, Treasure Map provides a wealth of musical riches, and a bounty of inspiration besides.


 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

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