“One Step Closer”…to What?

“One Step Closer” is the newest and most comfortable of all of String Cheese Incident’s albums to date. From the beginning, this album had a much different evolution than any of the bands previous albums. String Cheese Incident is known for its democratic band set up, as Billy Nershi sings in “Big Compromise,” which has caused difficulties in the studio. However, this album was produced by Malcolm Burn (who has also produced albums for Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris) who Carrie Lombardi, the spokesperson for String Cheese Incident, says helped with a lot of the decision process throughout the creation of the album, as well as brought out the voice of the band when they couldn’t. The band also recorded the album at a friend’s house in the hills of Colorado’s Front Range (New Moon Studio, Boulder, CO), which allowed them to work late but still return to their own families and homes. This arrangement clearly produced a comfortable vibe that is continuous throughout the album. For the first time in the history of String Cheese Incident, every member of the band wrote and sung at least one song on the album. This was new for percussionist Michael Travis who has never before done vocals for the band. “One Step Closer has a ‘more rootsy’ sound than past albums,” says Lombardi, and the band was looking to create a vibe similar to Grateful Dead’s American Beauty. “Give Me the Love” is the opening track to the album and reminded me a lot of a typical Dave Matthew’s Band song, which seemed a little foreign for String Cheese Incident. However, the album made a comeback with track two and three, “Sometimes a River” and “Big Compromise,” two songs that I thoroughly enjoyed and felt exemplified String Cheese Incident’s voice. Overall I felt that One Step Closer, though different for String Cheese Incident, was a worthwhile album. I liked the jazz, funk and early rock influence found in many of the songs and enjoyed the escape from the typical jam-band sound. It was a flash back to the band’s earlier album Big Pink from 1968, which has been the most widely appreciated of all of their albums. It truly is one step closer to the catharsis album String Cheese Incident has been consistently striving for. (A thanks to www.stringcheeseincident.com).