“Even the Undertaker” by Once Great Estate

The newest album by Southern Rock band, Once Great Estate, keeps things tidy and relatively punctual. With 8 tracks in all, and one being an intro piece, the album doesn’t exactly fly by, but doesn’t overstay its welcome, either. Indications may not seem that Once Great Estate is exactly ready for primetime, just yet, but they do have a sound and vibe that will quickly grow on you. The band is headed by Tracy Horenbein, and includes Steve Burke on Drums, Fiddler, Christopher Ash, Bassist, Jeffrey Chagnon, and Guitarist/Mandolin player, F. Murray Burns. The band’s creative direction, seems to be steered by Horenbein, who also moonlights as an ambient artist, under the pseudonym, Tracy Chow.

BANDCAMP: https://oncegreatestate.bandcamp.com/album/even-the-undertaker

Even The Undertaker, starts off with a southern gospel style intro, that conjures images of fire and brimstone. It’s effective in establishing intrigue, right out of the gate, no pun intended. Following the intro, is the waltz like title track. Even The Undertaker/will shed a tear. Tracy Horenbein sounds like a timid Tanya Tucker, but has an otherwise undefinable charm.

Next up is “Shelbyville Inn,” which is defined by something of a swing beat. The lyrics muse on about old memories, and compares them to modern times. Oh Lord/It Ain’t What It Use To Be. This is note for note, one of the most solid tracks on the record. The delicately sad ballad, “Southern Song,” might just be the album’s crescendo. The quietude of the opening chords, are strained to the point of tension. But then like a butterfly emerging, the chorus devastates you in the most peaceful way. Go out of your way to check this track, out.

There’s a cold wind from the north/and its come to raise the dead. “Battles” is a sleeper track, that tells a slightly abstruse story. This song is subtly dynamic, and gives us a sterling example of how dexterous the band is capable of being. “Friction” is probably the least southern sounding thing on the record. It’s an overall strong addition, but at this point, it feels like things have stayed at a languid pace for a bit too long. The album starts to take on a bleak tone, and while it’s to be expected, considering the theme, a shuffling of tracks might have helped.

APPLE MUSIC: https://music.apple.com/us/album/even-the-undertaker/1577022947

“Florida Man,” and “Nebraska,” respectively, close out the record. The former seems to describe your stereotypical Trump supporter, but tends get a little long in the tooth at certain points. The latter is a well written piece, that seems to simply pay ode to the Cornhusker State. The overall verdict is that you are going to come out of this listening experience with an appreciation for the musical craftsmanship of Once Great Estate. The record has a cogent and clearly defined theme, and the band does a stellar job of adhering to it. While Even The Undertaker might not be the breakout moment for the Florida band, it’s enough to make you tune in for the next episode.

Garth Thomas

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