Rolling out of the speakers with an angelic ease that is indebted as much to college radio indie rock as it is the bucolic balladry of an old school hipster folk movement in the American underground, the central harmony in Dorsten’s “To the River” is reason enough to pick up this new track from the acclaimed crossover duo this fall. Blending Americana with strong pop/rock aesthetics and a talent for conjuring up powerful hooks out of nowhere, Dorsten has been turning a lot of heads in the underground lately, and after taking a peek at this latest release bearing their moniker, I can understand why.
You’ve got to love the natural chemistry between the two players in this duo, and even in a cursory listening session, I think it’s pretty obvious that they have a familial bond. Dorsten are brother and sister, and, as we’ve learned since their 2020 debut “Sea Salt,” when they play together there’s an unfiltered kinship in the ensuing harmony that tends to add a warmth to any melody they’re conveying unto us. There’s a lot of passion in their volley, and even at their most compelling, there’s rarely a moment in which they sound like they’re competing for our attention. They’re playing off of each other’s cues marvelously, and never showing even the slightest hesitation in their overall execution.
The percussion in “To the River” cushions the lyrical delivery perfectly, and to some extent, I think it lends a certain amount of license to the narrative that simply wouldn’t be here otherwise.
By utilizing non-melodic components to reinforce the emotional core of the track, Dorsten is
making it hard for us to experience the substance of their songcraft itself without feeling some sort of a reaction to the music. It’s provocative and pop-centric, and yet still indebted to Americana and not the only example of their adeptness in the studio.
This master mix isn’t as tightest that I’ve listened to all season, but I get Dorsten’s desire to avoid an overproduced sound in this latest single. There’s nothing worse than taking a solidly melodic product and varnishing it with a lot of unnecessary sonic plastic, and in choosing to keep the elements comprising the backdrop here organic, these two musicians can give us the best and most honest version of “To the River” possible in this situation. That’s more respectable than what some of their indie contemporaries have been producing in recent months, to say the least.
If you like folk/rock crossovers as much as I do, Dorsten’s new single “To the River” is worth checking out this October. Fresh out of the Grand Canyon State, Dorsten is representing the modern underground with pride in this track, and even though they’ve got quite a few worthy competitors coming at them from all sides of the game at the moment, they’re showing off the kind of chops it’ll take to elevate their sound from the indie circuit into the limelight of the mainstream once and for all.