Von Strantz is, according to the words on an internet page, “a community of storytellers, an ebb and flow of different musicians, exploring the intricacies of relationship, reliance on each other, and being human.” Listening to Von Strantz and their music you do get a feeling of community. A feeling of like-minded souls coming together to present to the world their take on the human condition. That take is given to us by way of folksy and roots-y songs, rustic and gothic simultaneously. Never once do their songs come off as kitschy, or like some great musical novelty project. Von Strantz makes honest, heartfelt, and at times beautifully mournful music that while elicits a certain pained expression of remorse it also is a celebration of life. Narrative Chapter I: Troubled Souls is part one of three mini-albums the band will be releasing in 2014. They’re off to a great start.
There’s so much musical goodness happening in the Von Strantz musical collective, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the fact that Jess Strantz -lead singer, guitarist, and namesake- has one hell of a voice. If you’re lucky enough to have already been privy to Von Strantz and heard their 2013 self-titled EP you would already be aware of this fact. But in one year Jess Strantz has gone from more of an indie croon to something more resembling a soulful Americana belter. Lead track “Troubled Souls” starts this collection off with strummed acoustic and Strantz’ amazing pipes. The song’s chorus brings to mind KD Lang’s “Constant Craving”, with Strantz matching Lang in intensity and emotional conviction. It’s a wonderful song that shows Von Strantz means business from the get-go. “Nothing Good In Me” sounds like a old time minstrel with some amazing fiddle, guitar pickin’, and Jess testifying to the world at large. “Since I Met You” is a beautiful acoustic-picked ballad that showcases the personal and intimate side of Von Strantz that should be experienced at a Von Strantz show in order to truly be appreciated. “All I Need” sounds like a distant confession that turns into a wooded waltz near a dying campfire, all curtsy and longing looks.
Now when I mention words like “Americana” and “roots-y” you get a certain idea in your head. This isn’t Avett Brothers, or God forbid Mumford and Sons. This is folk music that spans genres. This is solid songwriting, musicianship, and honest emotions put to melody. Von Strantz can create their tales plugged in on a stage, sitting on a stool in a coffeehouse, or strumming in the brisk air by a campfire. Narrative Chapter I: Troubled Souls is an emotional testament to a band’s musical commitment to living, loving, breathing, and experiencing life.
8.2 out of 10