On their eighth studio album and first release in four years, the BoDeans reestablish themselves as masters of musical populism. Still finds the longtime songwriting duo of Kurt Neumann and Sam Llanas capturing all the big emotions of life - nostalgia, regret, love, commitment, happiness and heartache - in perfectly accessible songs that never leave the listener behind.
"Round Here Somewhere" is the story of a found locket that's a symbol of lost love. The discovery takes Neumann on a treasure hunt of forgone dreams. "Looking for the potential that got left behind/Looking for the reasons we tried," he sings.
The track's opening guitar line evokes nostalgia - an example of the how the BoDeans' music matches the depth of feelings expressed in their lyrics.
Suicide has been a recurring motif for the BoDeans since Llanas wrote "The Other Side" for the 1993 album Go Slow Down. It's a personal subject for Llanos, who, at age 14, survived the trauma of his older brother's suicide.
The theme reappears on Still with "Breathe," a chilling track that finds a father opening a door and discovering his daughter cut and bleeding, lying on the floor.
The album doesn't spend all its time exploring darkness and looking back. Tracks like "Willing" speak to commitment, to carrying important relationships into the future, even as they become challenging.
"When you look in the mirror, and you can't remember how the hell you got here, I will be willing to run beside you," sings Llanas.
Steadiness and perseverance have always been core values of the BoDeans' music, and Still is true to those values. It shows why this band from Waukesha has defined Wisconsin rock for the past 25 years.