A native Floridian, Jeremy Steding's arrival in Nashville in 2016 did not come by a direct route. After a decade or so and four previous albums' worth of paying dues in the clubs and roadhouses of Texas and Oklahoma, he finds himself now in Music City, fronting his own high-energy, thoroughly tight and professional ensemble, The Rebellion. His music, though, still echoes the blue collar ethic and sensibilities of the denizens of places like the West Texas city of the title track and of the roughnecks he sings about in "Get Me The Hell Off This Rig" who feel their best years slipping by and long for greener pastures - or at least, anywhere even a little less dusty, dry and hopeless. Perhaps the best glimpse of his writing skills comes on "Whiskey Intuition," a dark tale of alcohol and tragedy, a modern-day echo of classic standards like "Long Black Veil" and "Wreck On The Highway."
Far from all gloom and misery, though, Steding displays a lighthearted and even romantic knack on tunes like "Late Night Love Song" and "Feels So Good To Be Back Home." Produced by a pair of Steding's band members, Chris Gill and Gavin Shea, much of "Odessa" carries an easy-going country-rock vibe, though liberally laced with pedal steel and fiddle. Notably, though, the arrangement on "Get Me The Hell Off This Rig" is stripped down considerably, making for arguably the strongest and best-presented track. And though Steding's baritone carries an engaging edge on the harder, up-tempo material, it's on the slower and more laid-back tunes where he seems to shine a little more. There are more and more artists making good music outside of the major label hierarchy these days, and Steding's work thus far makes for a good example.
One additional note to be made: as marketed for the online/electronic trade, "Odessa" consists of 8 tracks totaling a little more than 30 minutes, which may be a bit light when the "album" concept, in the minds of many, still implies 10 tracks or more. While downloading has undeniably altered the foundations of the music industry, this still represents a worthwhile investment. However, for those still in "retro" mode and prefer the satisfaction of sliding a disc into the player, the CD version available through Steding's website (jeremysteding.com) features an additional eight, count 'em, eight "bonus" tracks drawn from his previous catalog. The call here is, the full CD is well worth a few extra bucks.