The music is a patchwork amalgam of influences, including: twangy Southern rock (they’ve opened for the Drive-By Truckers), reverb-soaked psychedelia reminiscent of early My Morning Jacket or fellow Athens residents Phosphorescent, soaring guitar solos à la Neil Young and Crazy Horse, rhythmic jangle from that other Athens band, REM, multi-part vocal harmonies (which every band ought to have, dammit), and, weaving through it all, lyrical slide guitar.
Close your eyes at a Futurebirds concert and they’ll transport you to memories of great times, horrible breakups, good looking women, late-nights with friends, simple easy days as a child, your awkward phases of life, a positive outlook on what the future holds, and everything in-between. This is song-writing ladies and gentlemen. This is a band that has it. They’ve got the magic that pulls your heartstrings while simultaneously warming the heart and soul.”
— Live Music Daily
Although Andy Stepanian and Mason Brent are longtime bandmates and collaborators in Virginia’s Wrinkle Neck Mules, their duo Leon, III’s initial output bares only a hazy resemblance to that band’s alt.country past. Originally conceived by singer and principal songwriter Andy Stepanian as a vehicle for his moodier pieces, the project has trappings of a solo project – even adopting a moniker from his lineage. But, Brent plays a vital role in pushing the material out of the realm of songwriter introspection with his rock sensibility and deft guitar and bass playing.
The pair employed the help of Nashville’s Mark Nevers to produce their forthcoming debut. Nevers brought along a familiar cast of characters from his Lambchop pedigree highlighted by Brian Kotzur (Silver Jews) on drums, Tony Crow (Lambchop) on piano, Pete Finney (Bobbie Bare, Dixie Chicks) on pedal steel, Jordan Caress (Caitlin Rose), Kai Welch (Abigail Washburn) and Chris Scruggs (Marty Stuart). The result is a dynamic and multi-textural ride through a cycle of thematically linked songs. Expertly produced and arranged, the work touches on the instrumental largeness of Pink Floyd, the shadowy realms of The Velvet Underground – whose song Jesus is covered on the record – and the psychedelic streams of Grateful Dead.