Last month, Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers (Kit “Goose” Karlson, Brian “Boots” Factor, and Sam “Steamer” Getz) released their fifth studio album, Gift Horse. It’s the band’s second release with Vanguard Records.
“There’s the old saying, ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,’ which translated as showing appreciation for what you have,” Kellogg commented in the band’s press release.
“That’s exactly what this record’s about – appreciation that I have a job right now in 2011, with all that’s going on economically in our country; appreciation for my family, because there’s nothing that I value more; and appreciation of America in general.”
Produced by Mark Weinberg, the songs on Gift Horse have a classic rock, almost Americana kind of vibe about them. You can tell by just how these songs were written from personal anecdotes. The entire album plays out like a collective book of stories on life and family.
Kellogg has taken his storyteller writing style and really captured moments within his life and turned them into meaningful music. This is demonstrated on tracks like the uptempo “1993,” which is the story of how he and wife met and fell in love and “Noelle, Noelle,” which is written in admiration of his daughter, which is probably the sweetest song on the record. In songs such as “Gravity” and “Roots and Wings,” Kellogg sings of lessons learned from his family.
Gift Horse’s lead single, “Gravity,” is an upbeat tune about enjoying and appreciating the life you have now, instead of worrying about what lies ahead. I like that the arrangment really fits the song; coming off lighthearted and fun and truly drawing that picture of leaving your woes at the door and enjoying what’s right in front of you.
“Roots and Wings” is one of my favorites on the record. The song speaks to doing the best you can with your kids, but when the time comes to let them off to explore the world, you handle the change as best you can. Arrangement-wise, the song has a very anthem feel to it; I can see it being a great track to hear performed live.
A track that I must make mention of is “We Belong Here.” I think it’s one of the most relatable songs on the record. Most people, even as adults, still have their insecurities and I think that this song does a nice job touching on that. And the song does an even better job at conveying the message that no matter what, we all have our place on this earth. Whether you’ve been able to follow your dreams or are still powering through another wall tossed in your direction; “We Belong Here” is just that kind of uplifting song to keep your flame lit, so to speak.
Gift Horse by Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers is available now. For more information about the band and their current tour with Jon McLaughin, check out their official website.