Sand Sheff has been one of my favorite Colorado Americana artists since my radio days at KRFC in Fort Collins. Sand is, I suppose more technically, a regional West-of-Nashville/East-of-Bakersfield Rocky Mountain Western & Country artist. These days he’s taken up with a band over at Moab, Utah, way–Qucksand Soup, featuring top notch instrumental talent, five great vocalists, and catchy and unique songs, self described as “alt.bluegrass” whatever that is.
Quicksand Soup has a couple albums out, and now up on Spotify and other fine digital music platforms. The main event is titled Miss You Darling, and the collection of 13 songs doesn’t miss. Opening track “Kimberley” is the strongest song on the album, almost catchy enough for pop country radio without being too saccharine for traditional country enthusiasts. The Sand Sheff original continues strong songwriting credentials from his previous efforts, in particular Sheff’s 2004 release, Free On This Mountain, which remains one of my favorite all time albums.
The ensemble continues with a mix of Sheff-penned songs and covers, including Merle Travis’ “16 Tons” (and what do you get, another day older and deeper in debt…) The tongue-in-cheek “You’re Too Fine To Have Your Face In A Phone” is too saccharine, but also continues in Sand’s tradition of having fun with the music. The title track comes in 5th position with tight harmonies, and a nice little mandolin run among the fiddle and guitar work. Overall, the album brings together a variety of County & Western tunes appealing to a broad audience, town or country.
Quicksand Soup also put out a traditional Western album, Colorado Trail, also in Sand Sheff’s tradition of cowboy music (i.e. Cowboyin’, Dust), and the website has links to Country Sweetgrass and Western Gospel releases. If you happen to be in the Beehive State, the band plays in Moab every Wednesday night thru summer, then at Helper Arts Festival in Helpr, Utah, on 8/16/19, and the Salt Lake City Bluegrass Concert on 8/17.
My only quibble with Quicksand Soup, and a reason I delayed my review since the CD dropped this spring, is that I got hung up on the band’s name. I’m not usually one to judge a book or band by it’s cover, but I did. I could take the “Quick” and the “sand” is obvious. The “Soup” not so much. “Quicksand” is topical for a Country band, though entirely too common band name hence the appellation. I just couldn’t get over the “Soup”. So I played the music at home–the Spotify link dropped more recently so my Quicksand Soup scrobbles are under-represented. And I warmed myself up to my expectations of Sheff’s songwriting and performing skills. The music speaks for itself.