Nothing kicks off a music career quite like a stellar single that encapsulates everything that a band is trying to accomplish in a single fell swoop, and that’s precisely what Dorsten has produced in the new song “To the River.” Fans of the group are already aware of how brooding they can be when they’ve got a stage at their disposal, but those of us who are just finding out about this crossover folk band for the first time are treated to a splendid array of colorful details surrounding a melodic tour de force that is hot enough to warm even the coldest of hearts this October. It’s the first footsteps of a long journey, but the high magnitude impact it’s causing is enough to get everyone’s attention.
There’s enough pickup in Dorsten’s hook to push anyone towards the main harmony here, and overall, the production level of “To the River” is still very refined and polished. Thanks to the clarity of the high-definition studio sound, listeners can absorb the notes the band is unleashing at full impact and feel just how superb their motivations are. “To the River” is a lustful listening experience that works over fringe indie elements to make a soft-stylized Americana that reminds me a bit of the early SoCal scene. There isn’t any retro on this band’s profile though, and if anything their style is far more direct than anything I’ve heard come out of the Cali underground in at least five years.
The sweet use of tempo and tonality in juxtaposition is the real star of “To the River,” although it wouldn’t be as haunting were it not punctuated by the fretwork within the latter, which dexterously maintains a cool charisma from start to finish. Arrangements often don’t get their fair share of the spotlight, but this performance is so undyingly fresh and concise that our focus is automatically drawn to even the smallest of elements we might have been inclined to ignore otherwise. Dorsten has great chemistry and you can tell that this brother and sister get along well when they’re off stage, and that’s going to play a quintessential role in ensuring their staying power as a band for years and years to come.
Articulate, solid, and even-keeled in its delivery, “To the River” shows us a band that is ready to ascend to the position of power over the American music landscape, and the only scene left for them to conquer next will be the mainstream. Indie rockers have been very desperate for a band like Dorsten throughout the 2020s, but this might be the perfect time for the duo to enter the upper lexicon. The mainstream folk bands are dying off and the indie side of the table can’t seem to stop arguing over the pettiest of subjects from social issues to what makes artistic relevancy, and Dorsten is poised to take advantage of the resulting creative lull. After all, this is quite a statement they’re making, but I doubt it will be the last of their provocative output.