words: Jordan Gorsuch
The bright-eyed and well-natured Chicago band Ratboys return with their special breed of heartfelt folk music that they describe as "post-country" on the stunning "Control," the first single from upcoming sophomore record GN. Lead singer Julia Steiner's voice glows iridescently as she and her co-pilot Dave Sagan impress with jangly guitar passages. The princely licks of guitar and thudding bass are warm slices of sunshine behind Steiner's sweet-as-honey vocals, as she details an anecdote from her childhood that calls into question the presence of a higher-power.
"I almost saw a train wreck," Steiner announces at the beginning of the track, setting the stage for a tale of possible divine intervention. Steiner sings of “visions of big machines transformed” and “sloping mountains,” to reinforce the fantastical nature of the event, while reminding the listener of her own age in this story. A twangy guitar guides Steiner's impeccable voice as she delivers a sugary, wordless hook that is melodically inspired. Her brother Paul had managed to walk toward the train tracks while her parents were preoccupied, ("Paul stumbled toward a roaring train track / He was only four years old that day") but at the last moment he turned back and returned to his family.
"Who's in control?" Steiner asks on the song's scrumptious chorus. It's a hell of a question. Was it divine intervention that saved her brother's life, or was it just dumb luck? Who knows. All I know is that it is truly a pleasure to have Ratboys back and better than ever.