Seattle group Straw Dogs is an Americana group that does justice to their genre. They just released their sixth record, ‘Your Immaculate Machine’ with 14 original songs that are better than your first sip of Seattle coffee in the morning – these songs awaken the soul. It is no surprise that the band has had songs and appearances in national advertising(Toyota and Eddie Bauer) or that their music has been featured in indie films and major films(Feast of Love” starring Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear). Their music hits a chord long after you’ve heard it.
“Something to Love” opens the album with a song to love. Very pretty guitar picking, and a soulful electric guitar introduce the verse – in all its beautiful and tasteful simplicity, you are moved. “You arrive with absolute and I arrive with only questions.” Dave von Beck sings the poetic lyrics like a voice wrapped up in a warm sweater. He is so comfortable in his craft that you feel like you are sitting across from him in a café listening. Nice harmonies abound, not only in this song but throughout the album. A wonderful start to this stunning album, “Something to Love” is a universal song about recognizing that there is something to love – in all of us.
“Like Our Lives” is another gem. With an Americana-rock vibe, the mid-tempo ballad paints a moment when one lover dreams of a perfect world and the other realizes that this dream sounds a lot “like our lives.” Romantic yet grounded, “Like Our Lives” explores the essence of day-to-day love, the beautiful edges and nuances through revealing and honest lyrics.
“Battery” is filled with strong melodic content and a great hook with a nice steady beat. The song has a nostalgic feel as the lyrics ask, “Does anyone listen to the radio anymore?” Songs can be like memories reminding us of different times in our lives and evoking strong emotions. “I only need a battery or two, so I can play my radio under the stars and live again in the songs that I lived in with you.” Highlights include a wonderful harmony section with vocal layering that makes the song very engaging.
“The Story of You” changes things up with a tinge of indie rock. Dave brings it home vocally with an inviting performance. The song unfolds like the inner workings of a mind contemplating a relationship that’s challenging, but hard to let go of. “You use those words a lot, but they don’t mean a thing. Saying you’re sorry doesn’t mean a thing when you do it all again.” Wavy guitar licks add to the indie flavor. Strong songwriting shines.
Before we I wrap of the review, take a moment to check out Straw Dogs in this video:
With so many great songs, “Soldier On” can’t be passed by. This song has an instrumental arrangement that is haunting with long-held phrasings – you can hear the hope within. Guitar finger-picking work is really nice. The lyrics are about “soldiering on” and putting one foot in front of the other, standing by each other’s side through tough times.
Looking for a great Americana album – we found it in ‘Your Immaculate Machine’; Straw Dogs offers up a substantial album filled with songs that make you pause, smile, cry and “feel”, because at it’s core the song-writing and performances on ‘Your Immaculate Machine’ tap on the human experience in all of us through the lyrics and melodies that paint our lives.