Before music was recorded, it was made in homes and on porches of everyday folks. It was stories shared, and often created or recreated in the moment with simple instruments and harmonic voices. The latest bit of American porch music, Steel Octopus Arms released in November 2016 by Gideon’s Daughter of Wenatchee, is the finest example of modern Americana music; homemade and full of story.
Diverse influences shade the music here, which is decidedly a comment on various states and stages of love. “Old Barn” is a fun song, opening the collection with a cheeky bit about a tryst in the barn, including a sliver in a backside. A bluegrass vibe accompanies the triumphant declaration of a life well enjoyed in “When I’m Dead.”
“Out of November,” spoken and backed by piano, soaring violin, guitar and drums, is thoughtfully produced and thought provoking, fitting well with the overall theme of the collection. My favorite song is “Bohannon and the Swede.” Lyrically, its clever twist is tragic but typical of the best Americana music regarding lovers and murder. Musically, the journey is rich and layered, and multicultural.
Close harmonies and tight work like this are typically the result of people whose passions utterly match. I suspect that’s true here since two of the members are married – Lisa Petit, vocals and percussion, and Brad Petit , acoustic guitar, piano, kick drum, and vocals. Sean Hudgins contributes with mandolin, banjo, and vocals and Mari Griffith is on violin and vocals. Gideon’s Daughter crafted a collection that is equally at home around the bonfire while passing around the moonshine or at the garden party drinking wine and nibbling cheese. Few bands do what these folks do and clearly they understand the genre and its intended audience.