Caleb Stine & the Revelations: Mystic Country

February 11, 2020
Tim Newby

A revelation is a surprising and previously unknown fact. Caleb Stine & the Revelations is a Baltimore-based band, and to many outside their hometown, the first time they hear Stine’s music is a revelation into the power of his songwriting. With his latest release, Mystic Country, Stine will undoubtedly become a revelation to many more. 

Stine fleshed out his normal band the Brakemen (Burke Sampson on guitar; Nick Sjostrom on bass; E.J. “Big Sug” Thompson on drums) with Tiffany Defoe on saxophone, Ray Eicher on pedal stone, and Jim Hannah on percussion. He rechristened the collective the Revelations, and the added personnel provide a new depth to Stine’s music.

Stine is a songwriter of powerful dimensions who does not simply write songs; he creates experiences through music that spring to life – his commanding voice channels the heart of the characters that inhabit his songs. Stine is squarely in the mold of the songwriter’s songwriter like his predecessors Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Blaze Foley. While he is not always known by the masses, when heard his songs resonant with all. His lyrics are uncompromised truth.  There is no artifice.

As he sings on “Trees,” “Take a deep breath and welcome to reality.” The stories that exist in his songs run the full gamut of emotion from joy, to sorrow, to curiosity, to elation. Listening to one of Stine’s albums is a complete emotional journey, an experience beyond simply listening to music.  

With that idea of a complete emotional journey in mind, Stine has gone a step further and crafted an album that is a journey, both musically and figuratively. From the opening “Juniper Antenna” to the appropriately titled, closing track “End Credits,” Mystic Country is an album that is meant to be listened to from start to finish. The album’s music and narrative interludes transition seamlessly from song to song. References on Mystic Country to other characters from Stine’s vast musical catalog – like Mississippi Mark in “Confident” – only deepen the narrative that exists throughout the album.

Stine and the Revelations have crafted an 11 song record where the tracks support each other together to create an album in the truest sense of the word, a sonic landscape upon which the rest of the album can exist. It is an album that needs to be heard together as whole as you listen in quiet contemplation while sharing a joint with a good friend. It is an album that will stir thought, creativity, discussion, and inspiration.

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