Anyone who thinks that the Arizona scene doesn’t know how to produce bold and brilliant songcraft anymore needs to make a point of listening to “To the River,” the new song by Dorsten, if for no other reason than to be educated as to how ignorant such a notion is. Dorsten has been around for a moment but has been forging ever so strongly ahead much faster than their peers, and “To the River” is an exclusive sneak preview into what their future has the potential to sound and look like. This is a watershed moment for this sibling pair and a taste of Americana that I had been hoping to come across by the start of this autumn.
Let’s start from the top and get into the band’s core aesthetic. I love that Dorsten has all the heaviness of 70s-era folk/rock bands minus all of the prop lyricism and conceptual overkill that ultimately brought the genre to its knees by the end of the decade. There is no external commercial presence to be found in “To the River,” just musicians dedicated to playing their heart and soul out for the whole world to hear. They live to make music, and you can tell as soon as they start to harmonize in some of the bigger peaks of the track.
“To the River” is an attractive crossover for a millennial generation that has been craving a bigger sound for a while now for a couple of different reasons. Surrealism was big coming into the start of 2023, but in the last nine months, we’ve seen such a broad expansion of hybridity in pop music that excess is once again being favored as a useful creative outlet. This generation of music consumers has more emotions attached to throwbacks than many anticipated, and in the spirit of true catharsis, Dorsten is setting a good example by not holding anything back in their new release whilst honoring their roots extensively.
I’m dying to know what “To the River” is going to be followed up with in the duo’s next record, mostly because I have a feeling that they’ve got even more depth than they’re showing off here. Within this track alone, there are a lot of different colors and textured elements being fused, which tells me that Dorsten doesn’t plan on being labeled as just another alternative folk band. They’ve got experimentalism coursing through their blood, and I’m betting that in their next major release, we’re going to see just how deep they can go.
The future is wide open and inviting Dorsten to grab it by the horns, and “To the River” is a good attempt at stardom. There’s plenty of room for growth in this band’s sound and I would like to see them smooth out a couple of different creative edges, but overwhelmingly I think listeners and critics are going to get the point of what they’re trying to do with this single. It can take some time for any band to grow into their sound completely, but for the little time that these two have been together they show more promise than rivals who have been recording much longer.