Standout Track: No. 7, “Stranger’s Will,” a Gram Parsons-esque anthem from Stranger in the Alps’ debut LP, Honey If You’re Lucky. The rootsy track espouses choosing your own philosophy and diverging from a predetermined path. Building into a joyful three-part harmony for the chorus, it’s also one of the album’s most layered works: Steve Kolowich (an occasional Washington City Paper contributor) plays acoustic guitar and handles lead vocals, while a handful of other musicians cover electric guitar, bass, drums, fiddle, piano, and organ.
Musical Motivation: “I think self-reinvention is a fantasy [people] keep in their back pocket as a sort of insurance policy against the rather bleak prospect of doing the same thing over and over their whole lives,” Kolowich writes via email. Creating an entirely new identity isn’t as easy as the lyrics suggest—”Throw away the name your father gave you/Take the freedom that it bought and leave the rest”—but just the possibility of starting over lends the tune an inspirational lift.
The Bigger the Better: “Stranger’s Will” isn’t particularly complex; it’s “a folk song with three chords and a sing-along chorus. On its own, it’s not much,” Kolowich writes. He first recorded it alone with a guitar, but added new elements as he performed it. The power of the song—-only the second Kolowich wrote—-comes “from the fact that it’s something everybody can get their weight behind.”
Stranger in the Alps performs tomorrow at 8 p.m. at 1732 Kenyon St. NW. Listen to “Stranger’s Will” after the jump.