Kevin Stebner calls the new incarnation of his bedroom gruff-folk project Cold Water “country”, but don’t mistake this for any faux-rural CMT-esque bullshit: Stebner is busy singing about our country. And, unlike the bombast and furor of his Canadiana post-hardcore project Stalwart Sons, Stebner here sounds subdued, almost weary, as if the cold of a Canadian winter has almost bested him: “Wolf willow bends a low bow, whispers shaking,” he rasps, the notes nearly being squeezed out of his throat, “it’s the terror of being alone, and cold.” And yet, as the subtle howls float in the background and the distorted guitars and drums crash and envelop like an HBC blanket, it’s clear there’s no other country Stebner would rather sing about. And, concurrently, there’s no other country I’d rather listen to.
Kevin Stebner is a Calgary mover and shaker who has been active in several scenes. You may recognize him as lead man of the passionate and very loud Stalwart Sons or perhaps you remember him as 8-bit virtuoso Greyscreen. In this new incarnation K. Stebner’s Cold Water is the rambling gruff back hand of a haggard folk pilot. Stebner has also released a book of poetry in months past and that reflects here as well. His lyrics play off the music in a sombre give and take (see “Cave Not In”) and thus seem to revel in their own individual weight.