Steve Amsden

Steve Amsden

BandFolkAcoustic

Acoustic folk duo Short & Sweet (Steve Amsden and Robyn Landis) is a collaboration of two superb singer-songwriters whose distinctive, engaging songs feature compelling original lyrics, sparkling guitar and expressive vocals. Their melodic, intelligent music has depth and a satisfying musical range.

Biography

Short & Sweet, an acoustic contemporary folk duo, consists of Steve Amsden and Robyn Landis--two outstanding singer-songwriters whose collaboration frames consistently compelling original lyrics with sparkling guitar and beautiful, expressive vocals.

The pair is known for their harmony-rich mix of quality original material and uniquely-arranged folk favorites. Their distinctive and engaging songs are capably delivered by the two artists and their guitars; they are further enriched by  the stellar musicians who joined them on CD  (including renowned Seattle-area fiddler Paul Elliott and Dan Tyack on steel guitar).

Steve Amsden has been playing and teaching guitar for over 30 years. He has performed solo and with bands all over the Western U.S. He has played at the Bluebird Caf» in Nashville and opened for such musicians as Mark O'Connor. A multi-instrumentalist who also plays banjo, mandolin and percussion, Steve is well-respected for his musicianship and is sought after as a guitarist for many local projects.

Robyn Landis has been a singer since childhood and has been performing as a musician since 1998. She studied guitar with Linda Waterfall and voice with vocal coach Kathy Sankey. She also trained as an actor and in musical theater. A professional writer all her life and a successful author in her spare time, Robyn's deft and powerful command of language is exceptionally apparent in her songwriting.

Steve and Robyn each fronted their own bands on their home island of Vashon, Washington, before landing in the same group--a folk-country band called Backroads--in 1999. They formed the duo in 2001. They released Love and Other Words in November 2004 on their own independent label, Take One Again Music.

Lyrics

Cutthroat

Written By: Steve Amsden


You take no prisoners
No mercy, no quarter
You give it everything
You sacrifice your daughter
Your sons and daughters

Cutthroat, you say
that's the only way you play
Cut throat then walk away
You're gonna lose someday
It's not a game

You leave a trail of tears
A legacy of sorrow
You give it everything
as if there's no tomorrow
There's no tomorrow

It seems you win again
No second prizes
You give it everything
That's what the price is
That's exactly what the price is
 

That Was Then

Written By: Steve Amsden

I sang your praises from high places 
called your name out like a prayer
Hymns of adoration
And psalms of dark despair
I worshipped at the altar
made sacrifices in your name
Once upon a time I thought
I was keeper of the flame
But I have to get over it somehow
Cause that was then  and this is now

I reveled in your religion 
I relied upon your grace
Said Hail Marys for your mercy
Closed my eyes to see your face
Cast my bread upon the water 
and wept over the waste
Once upon a time I thought
I believed and I was saved
But I have to get over it somehow
Cause that was then  and this is now

I stood upon the mountain
So I could shine your light
Held my candle to the wind
Left me cursing at the night
I stood alone in darkness
Saw what I never saw before
Once upon a time I thought 
You were worth the searching for
But I have to get over it somehow
Cause that was then  and this is now

I put you on your pedestal
I sat you on your throne
And when at last you finally fell
I was first to cast the stone
I used to walk through fire for you 
but I guess you never saw
Way back then I guess you thought you so were above it all
But you have to get over it somehow
Cause that was then    and this is now

In Your Arms

Written By: Steve Amsden

Moon on the water
Ship lost at sea
Child cries for mother
A star falls silently
Time goes slowly, time goes slowly

Oh to be in your arms right now
To hold you close to me
I'd give everything I have
To be in your arms right now

High mountain desert
Old bent pine tree
Parched cries for water
The sun sets endlessly
Time goes slowly, time goes slowly

Abandoned old farmhouse
Yard filled with weeds
Wind cries forsaken
A bell tolls somewhere
Time goes slowly, time goes slowly

Discography

Full-length CD "Love And Other Words" released November 2004. We have regular airplay on KBCS in Washington state.

ALBUM DESCRIPTION:
This exceptional debut release by Northwest-based acoustic duo Short & Sweet marks the introduction of a gifted pair of singer-songwriters to the acoustic folk/roots genres.

Thirteen original songs (some penned by lead guitarist Steve Amsden, others by rhythm guitarist Robyn Landis, some co-written) manage to gracefully and effortlessly traverse a diverse musical landscape stretching gently toward the borders of rock/pop, country/bluegrass and even jazz/torch, all the while holding on to its clean contemporary-folk thread. 

Consistently intelligent, commanding and even cunning lyrics—ranging from matters of heart and soul to those of church, state, and world—are framed by confident, heartfelt vocals and ambient, sparkling guitars.  Amsden delivers a passionate Springsteenesque baritone; Landis’s clear, slightly wistful soprano reveals husky depths and an occasional surprise bite. On harmonies, the two produce a pleasing blend that’s sweet indeed.

With emotional resonance and character, the partners cover ground from love’s first blush to its impending demise, from political to personal hubris—never too literal, rendered smartly in dexterous verse.  While relatively spare in instrumentation, the music is strikingly textured with the brilliant, breathtaking fiddle work of virtuoso Paul Elliott. The steel guitar by Dan Tyack—sometimes high and lonesome, sometimes rocking David Lindley-esque—rounds out the impressive musicianship represented here.

Amsden’s lead playing reflects a gift for creating signature hooks which, coupled with both writers’ ability to craft appealing and accessible melodies, gives each song a quick and lasting imprint.

From the riveting, muted fury of the eco-political indictment While Trees Fall, to the quiet, haunting resignation of Say Goodbye; from the yearning called forth by the richly-imaged, mesmeric and meditative In Your Arms to the restrained menace in the chillingly prophetic Cutthroat; from the impish hint of lounge lizardry in the taut and clever Closing Time to the tender nostalgia of Calico Creek; and from the bittersweet stirring of awakening evoked by When I Get There to the buoyant, unabashedly sticky Kiss/Met (a bright popsicle of a song telling the couple’s own story in three head-bobbing verses)—and more—each of these 13 tunes is distinctive, honest and engaging.

While the duo have been performing together for years—and Amsden was a Nashville regular before taking a decade off to singlehandedly raise his three children—this is their first full-length CD release.  Enigmatically named (they’re of identical height, and not all the songs are especially short nor purely sweet), this is a talented pair of musicians, offering a formidable recording debut sure to deeply satisfy fans of the genre.  You’ll want to hear more from these two—and you will.

Set List

We have two solid sets of originals songs with just a couple of covers thrown in. With more covers, we have three to four solid sets of music.  Our original music is diverse within the folk genre--much of it is very melodic modern folk, but a few songs have a bluegrassy or country feel, roots/American sound, or  even a jazzy/torch element.  Our covers are wide-ranging--we have our own interpretations and arrangements of favorites by Bob Dylan, Shawn Colvin, Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt, Patty Griffin, John Prine, Dar Williams, Richard Shindell, Lucy Kaplansky, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, Patsy Cline, and many others.