Overstep is Mike Gordon's fourth solo studio album, following Moss, The Green Sparrow, and Inside In.
Gordon and Scott Murawski penned the songs for Overstep during a series of writing retreats in New England. He turned over the producing reins to Paul Q. Kolderie (Radiohead, Uncle Tupelo, Pixies) and invited a few new players into the studio, including legendary drummer Matt Chamberlain (Jon Brion, Fiona Apple).
"Yarmouth Road," the infectious, reggae-inspired number is already familiar to Phish fans after its debut (along with "Say Something") on the band's Summer 2013 tour. Distant industrial noise gradually gives way to lush guitars and welcoming vocal harmonies in "Ether," the album opener (listen to the track here), while "Jumping" is a rhythmic puzzle box, detailing a series of thoughts that take place in a fleeting 1.5 seconds.
Many of these songs promise huge payoffs in a live environment, most notably two plunging grooves that seem capable of bringing a house down. "Tiny Little World" opens with a polite reverie about a fetching woman in a coffee shop, but morphs quickly into pulsing boogie as the narrator is carried away by desire and bravado. Debauched exhortations to dance surface again in "Face," which chugs along atop Chamberlain's simple but undeniable pocket.
The songs on Overstep also speak to Gordon's evolving ability to develop three- dimensional characters, and to speak more directly to the truth of their condition. He hasn't lost his appetite for metaphor, and he still leaves plenty of room for interpretation, but listeners may find themselves recognizing the human portraits in songs like "Say Something" and "Paint" in a way they haven't in Gordon's previous albums. Still, happily, Gordon embraces absurdity as he always has - conceptually, lyrically, and musically.