By Cait Brennan, Oct. 23, 2014.

Joe Stevens | Last Man Standing | Self-released | 

“This winding road will take me there, I’m sure as I could be,” sings Joe Stevens on “Maggie’s Chair,” the album’s opening track. “My trials will be fair, as long as I’m aware, and I will end up where I’m meant to be.” The 32-year old singer-songwriter is best known as one third of acclaimed Seattle roots-Americana trio Coyote Grace, and while the group has not split up, Last Man Standing is a brilliant solo debut that showcases his gift for storytelling and musicianship.

Stevens packs each song with movement and poetry, like in the brooding, evocative “Buenaventura”, which finds Stevens’ protagonist lost in the desert, “starting to fear the cold kiss of sweet fate.” The gorgeous fingerpicking guitar and the rich, earthy vocals set the tone and the desperation builds.

That desperation is palpable in the bluesy, aching “Can’t See The Train.” But beauty and love practically overflow on “Eight Ball, Corner Pocket.” And, “Bad” is a rollicking good time, while the tender “Waiting For Spring” is a prayer for rebirth, with subtle but powerful strings and harmonies.

His website (joestevensmusic.com) describes his music as “roots music for the rootless,” and that sense of wandering is at the core of Last Man Standing. “How this road became my own … I don’t get it, it’s beyond me,” he sings. However it happened, we’re all the better for it.

For fans of: Mary Gauthier, Townes Van Zandt and Namoli Brennet

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