Stover, Past the 9 (Independent)

Stover, Past the 9, album cover

There is a contained energy to Stover’s latest release. From the first to the second to last tune, it seems that all the players are holding back a little. This tension gives the record an edge that keeps listeners tuned in and waiting for it all to blow. The eerie violins and accusatory vocals of the opener “Death Trap Cadillac” affirm this. Such atmosphere continues in “Passing Through,” where Peter Orr’s mandolin trills match with the intermittent accordion swells of Greg Schatz. Even a sweet ode like “Tattoo” doesn’t lose the weight of what is not being played. The album takes a break on the next track “Exactly Where,” another sweet, mellow tune with its slow rhythm and lyrical banjo. Here, as on 3 other tracks, lead vocalist Martin Turlington sings with an understatement of emotion that contains a lovely tone, almost as if Kevin Griffin sang folk songs. And then the album takes a great, unexpected turn with the most tense tune yet, “How To Hit A Wall” with its Hitchcockian string introduction, swinging waltz, and lyrics detailing all the things that the subject knows or has learned about, but “one thing that no one talks about/how to hit a wall.” The song ends again with the string passages that almost push the tension of this record to release, but not quite. It is up to the country vibe of the final song, “Boomerang” to diffuse the edge that has been built up with its mellow, easy attitude.