Pressing Strings makes powerful declaration with new LP, ‘…And I For You’

Pressing Strings makes powerful declaration with new LP, ‘…And I For You’

When posed with the question, “name the most influential state(s) in American music history?”, it is safe to say Maryland is one of the biggest underdogs. Sonic waves have been crashing on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay area for the past century, slowly eroding the barriers of the international music landscape, flooding the scene with generational talents and timeless compositions. Pioneered by musical legends such as David Byrne (Talking Heads), Frank Zappa, and Billie Holiday who influentially paved the way for iconic acts such as O.A.R., Good Charlotte, Animal Collective, Maggie Rogers, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and a school of reggae rock’s most influential fish. 

Amidst the sea of talent swelling from the mid-Atlantic, hails some of today’s most coveted reggae rock bands, who not only grew up in the same swimming pool, but are also life long friends. This band of brothers – Passafire, Ballyhoo!, Bumpin Uglies, WAX, Joey Harkum, The Grilled Lincolns, and in my opinion one of the most underrated of all, Pressing Strings – are all actively touring national acts who’ve been making major waves throughout the industry for the past two decades, while endlessly supporting each other’s endeavors. I’ve had the pleasure of growing up with these beautiful spirits, honored to call them family, and blessed that their art has been the soundtrack to my life. 

Pressing Strings’ latest drop, “…And I For You,” is their seventh studio album, and their first release on Warren Hayne’s label Evil Teen Records. This 11 track release, born out of the pandemic, it thematically tackles adversity, longing, family, home, love, and an unwavering hope throughout life’s storms. Blending their signature mix of reggae, rock, funk and soul this album showcases tremendous creative growth, maturity, and resilience backed by what will prove to be timeless lyrical messages.   

Photo by Britt Olsen-Ecker

Frontman Jordan Sokel’s ability to paint pictures with his lyrics has always been the draw for me. Pressing Strings’ first six albums are unfettered proof of these prose. “…And I For You” is no exception, with their stand out track “Weather The Storm” hitting home for me. “Leaving is never easy. Time is not always kind. People can be so callus. Love can be hard to find. Relief is the train we’re boarding, ancient and warm. We’ve got to claim this ticket, and board. Just as sure as you’re born…No matter what, we can weather the storm.” A powerful message for us all coming out of dark times. Like the breeze dancing across the surface, this serves as a gentle reminder we all need a little push sometimes.

Grab the ticket, take the ride. Trust the universe to catch your fall. 

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Pressing Strings’ lead singer, Jordan Sokel, to pick his brain on this album, and his take on the future of Pressing Strings. 

This album showcases maturity, integrity, and genuine lyrical mastery from what I picked up. I wanted to get your vibe. What’s the message that Jordan Sokel put out into the universe when he sat down to make this album?   

  • Jordan Sokel: When the pandemic hit and everything kind of came to a halt, I was already feeling burnout from life, ​​so the break was welcomed, It actually turned out to be a good thing for me and my family to just chill and enjoy each other’s company. I think most of the record is kind of about realizing what you got in front of you. Maybe that is maturity to be present and understanding that you are in fact, lucky. There’s something inspiring just watching my kids grow and watching my wife, you know, fall in love with my kids more and more each day. For some reason that seems to be one of the things that mainly inspires me, feeling grounded.

Your family is so freaking adorable. I personally loved your daughter’s intro that kicks off the album. To me it’s a more wholesome version of a Sublime interlude, putting a friend’s audio recording over top of a track. What inspired this? 

  • Totally, man! I love Sublime’s use of interludes, they always resonated with me personally.

“It’s important to love yourself, right dad?” That messaging coming back to you from a spirit that you created at such a young age is powerful, and then dropping that message to the rest of the universe as an intro to an album…such a great call. High five!

  • Right! Just to see her wheels turning in the right direction is really special to witness. In fact, this album is really a gift to my family, a message to them and something to leave behind. You know whenever it’s time, just to have, just to put it on wax as sort of a dedication album.

Home is a major theme stitching this album together. How did Maryland play into this record and into Pressing Strings overall sound?

  • Maryland, the geography of it is interesting because it’s kind of like a little California where you have mountains, you have the beaches, and you have farm areas. So you have a lot of these different ways of life and people who cling onto certain types of music. You got like the city where hip-hop and go-go is big. You have the beach where reggae is king. You got rural places where country music is huge. So, I mean, I think there’s just a really small but intense melting pot going that’s sort of breeding all of the young culture. Also, I think we have really good radio in Maryland. I think that has a lot to do with it. Every single one of the bands you name above we were probably all listening to the same radio station at the same time, you know, so I’m sure that has something to do with it. Other than that, you know, Maryland is right in the middle of fucking everything. It’s right in the middle of the mid Atlantic, which is where every fucking band worth of shit tours. It’s my home and it absolutely helped shape this album and our style. When the shit actually went down with the pandemic, one of the biggest things for me to relax my mind and put in perspective very quickly was how important your local community is and especially the local community where I live. I just saw that really vividly, and everyone coming together, I think that totally inspired me.

More and more the universe seems smaller and smaller everyday. There is a real sense of interconnectivity between us as a species, especially since the pandemic, and a lot of these lyrics seem to speak to us all, providing a sense of hope. Was that something you recognized when writing this album?  

  • Great because I tried to keep it simple enough, you know, to where the lyrics could be universal to whatever anybody’s going through. We’re all in this together. Yeah, hope…hope is something that we all need and was definitely a conscious theme. It feels good to know that message was received.

What is on deck for Pressing Strings? What should we look out for?

  • Um, hitting the road pretty hard here starting actually this week. We’re doing some stuff for the first time ever. We’re going out and playing Colorado for a handful of shows in places like Denver and Colorado Springs…putting some more miles on the ole’ minivan. Those are going to be kind of, you know, important shows for us. Promoting the album is really what we’re trying to do. Check it out. Come out see us! 

Catch Jordan and the Pressing Strings crew this summer on tour and in the meantime smash the like, share, subscribe, and stream “…And I For You” on all major streaming platforms. Plus, catch the newly released music video for “Your Love” below.

Artist Links: Website | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify

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Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.

Tour dates for Pressing Strings

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