Once Great Estate Release Album

Once Great Estate is a Florida based 5 piece, who pontificate themselves as Southern Rock. While this description is mostly accurate, they certainly lean into the southern part of that combination. The band is led and was founded by Tracy Horenbein. Tracy is one of, if not the primary songwriter for the band, and she is something of an idiosyncratic talent. Her vocals throughout the record, are often sang in a hushed, coy tone, that could even identify as a whisper at times.

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The band’s newest album, Even The Undertaker, is a collection of mostly fiddle driven work, which highlights the low key, clever storytelling of Horenbein. Once Great Estate knows how to write a terrific song, which they do more than once on Even The Undertaker. With that considered, the group is still fine tuning certain aspects of their sound, which gives the record a distinctively raw quality. While there are some blemishes from a production standpoint on the record, the quality of artistry, often makes up for it, but not always. It’s an album with an appeal that grows, with each listen.

“Nebraska” is the album closer, and while it initially brings things to a bit of a crawl, it gradually blossoms into something more full sounding. It’s a bit of an open ended song, that’s rather spacious at times. It concludes with a gloriously conducted mass chorus, with the only caveat being that the lyrics are somewhat inaudible. “Florida Man” is the obligatory “epic,” from the record. It plays out like the biography of a young Rush Limbaugh. This track is a bit odd, from an imagery standpoint, but to the band’s credit, they fully commit to it.

In the darkness of the future/we lost our sight. “Friction,” sounds like a collaboration between Sheryl Crow and The Wallflowers. It’s a slower tempo tune, with a terrific walk down on the bass, at about the halfway point. This song highlights Horenbein at her best, with ghostly, somewhat ethereal vocals, and a bashful vulnerability. Of course, we can’t forget the album intro, which is essentially a voice over, with a guitar underneath it. This transitions into the title track, “Even The Undertaker,” which is a fun romper about the death of all things.

Even The Undertaker is a strong record, if you allow yourself to get lost in it. There’s times where I found myself completely engrossed in certain tracks, such as the achingly emotional, “Southern Song.” At other times, you want to go to the board, and turn Horenbein’s vocals up, considerably. Her talent is not debatable, but her confidence is another story. Nonetheless, Once Great Escape has the same type of appeal as an act like Cowboy Junkies, but just need to fully embrace their identity. It’s a mighty undertaking, indeed, but Horenbein and the boys certainly have the tools to do it.

Michael Rand

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