Where were you when the Bruce Hornsby school of songwriting came back into vogue? For me, like many, I became aware of the trend due to a largely renewed interest in the early 90’s era of the Grateful Dead and a tour from Bruce & The Range that spanned several cultural events including Outside Lands and Austin City Limits. However, for some of us, perhaps they got clued in through Seneko’s mid 2019 release Soul Numbers, an EP recorded in Nashville in 1989, or so it sounds.
This sonic comparison is no slight to the music – Seneko frontman Stan Olshefski accomplishes exactly what he sets out to do from the get-go – a glammy, loud, power-pop country record that reminds one of T Bone Burnett’s indelible production presence during the late 80’s era and the Petty/Lynn era of Orbison. Soul Numbers has been crafted to sound reminiscent of that indulgent and splendiferous era of music lauding gee-tar kinds and broken-hearted cowpokes. Though, can such a sound truly exist in 2020?
The short answer to the previous question is, of course. Seneko knows their audience quite well. It’s for those who happen in to a honky tonk on Broadway Street in Music City USA looking for a cheap thrill. These folks will inevitably end up rocking out with the boys in Seneko until the well runs dry. And with a deliverance like “Jenny’s With Irene,” (which is, quire honestly, a perfect original composition for such a scenario) the well won’t likely run dry any time soon.
Armed with a guitar like 80’s Dylan and voice one might find on Coney Island Baby, Olshefski is a unique amalgam of his close personal tastes. And while its possible that some of the intended depth on Soul Numbers gets muddled in the fandom and recreation of our favorite artists, there’s still a great deal of merit in creating an EP that encapsulates a scene quite well. Seneko is not hung up in the past. In fact, they’re perfect curators of a vibe that one can enter (and exit!) as they please in a glorious 15 minutes of nostalgic bliss. Pick up a whiskey sour and enjoy it, yeah?