The Furious Seasons, an acoustic trio, brings to life stories within their songs. These tales delve into the lives of people facing desperate situations, paint a picture of 21st-century Los Angeles, and recount the quiet heroism of individuals, all with a subtle acknowledgment of the relentless passage of time. David Steinhart, a renowned songwriter, singer, and guitarist, crafts songs that beautifully balance hope and melancholy, offering a songwriting style that ranges from stark to ethereal, ideally suited for acoustic renditions. The graceful accompaniment by a small string orchestra adds surprising tonal richness, creating a hypnotic musical realm where listeners can lose themselves. These songs unveil new layers of depth with each repeated listen.
David Steinhart, a veteran Los Angeles songwriter, has distilled his decades of songwriting expertise across nearly 30 album releases. He and his brother, Jeff, toured the U.S. and Europe in the ’90s and ‘00s as part of bands like Smart Brown Handbag and Pop Art.
Guitarist Paul Nelson’s background as a working musician in Santa Barbara, exploring various facets of Americana, enables him to illuminate David’s songs with inventive melodies that blend blues, folk, and country influences. He also lends his harmonious vocals to David’s emotive melodies. Jeff Steinhart’s upright bass provides a supple foundation that brings the songs together with a gravitas that elevates the vocals and guitars. In the recording studio, he adds subtle touches of organ and piano at just the right moments. At the heart of the material, David’s modal guitar approach keeps the songs grounded while creating open-ended, almost impressionistic sonic landscapes for the trio to build their arrangements upon.
The trio has received critical acclaim for their work, with reviewers praising their last album, “Home All Day, Home All Night,” for its intricate arrangements and rich, textured sound.
On September 29, 2023, the band released their fifth album, “Every Morning at Five,” with the trio as its core. This album, much like their previous four, features exceptional contributions from supporting musicians. Luis Conte (James Taylor, Phil Collins) handles percussion, and William Gramling (Rickie Lee Jones, Shelby Lynn) shines on the piano. Alfonso Rodenas, a 5-time Grammy winner, lends his vocals and keys to the album.
In contrast to the band’s earlier albums, which often explored themes of loss, change, and strife, David has written most of this album from a place of love and gratitude. Tracks like “Every Morning at Five,” “A Companionable Silence,” “I’ll Take You On,” and “Up the Coast” introduce a new genre for the band: unabashed love songs. With the same meticulous attention to lyrics, these songs uplift and affirm life in a fresh and distinct way.
The album’s overall production, led by 5-time Grammy winner Alfonso Rodenas, exudes a breezy, jazzy, folky California vibe, making it a musical experience you’ll want to savor repeatedly.
We caught up with The Furious Seasons, below!
Can you tell us about the origins of The Furious Seasons and how the trio came together?
Before we were a trio, The Furious Seasons had a few different incarnations. The first self-titled album, which we call the yellow album, was just my brother Jeff and I playing all the instruments and focusing on acoustic arrangements. That was the original concept. Having played music in Los Angeles for about 30 years at that point, we knew a lot of great players and somehow ended up being a six-piece band with even more musicians coming into record. The whole thing became very orchestrated and a little out of my control. One of the musicians who came in to record some guitar on a song was Paul Nelson. Withing a month Jeff and Paul and I hit it off.
I was offered an opening slot for John Hiatt, but his team wanted a solo performer, not a band and definitely not a band with drums. We asked if we could perform as a three-piece acoustic act and they agreed. The rest as they say, is history.
The band’s music is described as having tales of persons in desperate situations and stories of quietly heroic individuals. Could you share some examples of the themes you explore in your songs?
A reviewer once wrote a very short review of the first album. I’m paraphrasing but it was something like, “The Furious Seasons, as furious as a butterfly”. He clearly missed the point that it’s the seasons and their passing that we refer to as furious in our name and not the songs. I largely write about, time and the way the passes and the way that we deal with it. That’s pretty general so it gives me a lot of room to maneuver lyrically, but that is the overriding concept.
Living in Los Angeles seems to play a significant role in your songwriting. How has the city influenced your music and the stories you tell?
I tend to write small tales of things that are in front of me or around me. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for decades and love it, warts, and all. The city is so huge and varied and is really its own thing. There are so many good characters and stories here and I’ve spent 40years writing about them.
David Steinhart, you’ve been involved in songwriting for decades. How has your songwriting style evolved over time, especially with the acoustic treatment that The Furious Seasons offers?
Our early bands, Pop Art and Smart Brown Handbag had big jangly guitars and thumping drums. Although I’ve always written on acoustic guitar, it took a concerted effort and a fair amount of work to slow things down and be able to perform the songs acoustically. I remember listening to Songs for a Blue Guitar from the Red House Painters and loving the way that the songs just took their damn time. Working with Jeff and Paul is a dream come true. We are able to fill in just enough space and also leave a ton of space in the songs.
Paul Nelson, your background in various facets of Americana is mentioned. How do you bring your unique blend of blues, folk, and country influences to the band’s sound?
When I started playing with the guys, I was primarily an electric guitar player. I hadn’t played much acoustic guitar in bands besides strumming on recordings. I made a living playing in cover bands in Santa Barbara for a long time and that gave me experience with different styles of music and different styles of playing. David’s songs evoke a myriad of styles and because we are a three piece, the way that I approach my parts have a big impact on coloring the songs.
Jeff Steinhart, as the bassist and contributor of organ and piano in the studio, how do you approach crafting the tonal foundation that brings the songs together?
We usually have a tonal concept for the record before we start recording it. We rehearse and play the songs live for an awhile prior to recording so we have a pretty good idea of what we want the songs to sound like. I’m pretty traditional in regards to sounds and instrumentation. Strings, piano, organ, minimal percussion and hopefully brass in the future is where I usually go. With the current three piece acoustic setup these are what work best and sound natural to me. I lean toward tapestry by Carol King and Astral Weeks by van Morrison as templates for what I like to hear.
The band’s music has been praised for its intricate arrangements and instrumental interplay. How do you strike a balance between creating a rich, textured sound and allowing the songs’ narratives to shine?
I credit Paul and Jeff with the arrangement and interplay. Paul is a gifted player and is unique in his desire to not overplay. I think he leads the way in terms of us listening to each other’s parts pretty carefully and trying to create space between the notes. That way of arranging is a perfect backdrop for story telling lyrics and narratives.
“Home All Day, Home All Night” was described as a folk record with intricate arrangements. Can you delve into the process of creating such intricate musical arrangements while maintaining the folk essence?
That album was recorded during the height of the pandemic. Normally, we record in the same room at the same time. We take the best takes and build from there. With HADHAN, Jeff and I recorded in a studio and Paul recorded at home. It was a very different vibe, but it also allowed us to experiment more. Paul ended up playing a fair amount of electric guitar and I played drums. Although I think you could call what we do folk music as a overall category, that album in particular has a lot of influences and styles.
Could you elaborate on the journey of distilling decades of songwriting into your albums and the musical evolution that’s evident across your nearly 30 releases?
I write pretty much every day. It’s just a thing that I love to do. Once I have a group of songs that fit together, I feel like it’s time to get them recorded and out in the world so that I can start the next batch and document the next period of time. It’s pretty much that simple. The music has changed as my tastes and like has changed. Getting to do this with Jeff and Paul for the last five albums has been incredible because these are really the favorite albums of my career.