ALBUM REVIEW: A Look At Genre-Bending Roots Quartet Upstate & Their New Album ‘You Only Get A Few’

Delivering solar harmonies and grassroots soul, Upstate uplifts their listeners through folk fantasia and heartfelt life lessons in their third studio album, You Only Get A Few.

The Hudson Valley-based quartet delivered their new 10-track record on March 31st under Kingston-based indie label, Royal Potato Family. The group’s first full length studio release in three years, the band members – Mary Webster (vocals, guitar), Melanie Glenn (vocals, guitar), Harry D’Agostino (vocals, bass, guitar, organ) and Dylan McKinstry (vocals, guitar, organ, mandolin, keys) – navigate the peaks and valleys of life in transition as they embark on a new season.

Inspired by the trials and successes the group has seen over the course of the pandemic, which included marriages, babies, funerals, and personal awakenings alike, the group took these fragments of time and marinated with them. From there, the genre-melding roots quartet was able to encapsulate these heavy and happy moments into You Only Get a Few.

“Everything Changes”

The opening track, “Lovers and Friends,” is about rediscovering friendship, or better yet, realizing the value of friendship by placing it on the same platform we hold romantic relationships. In an ethereal love letter to friendship, Upstate balances folk-rich harmonies with searing strings over a soulful groove. It’s a fitting opening track for a collaborative album detailing life as bandmates and a group of dear friends. 

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The grooving and flowing third track, “Auntie,” is traditionally folk in lyricism, reminding the listener of the value of good advice, whether self-discovered or from others, but strays from the roots-fueled instrumentation the band seems to typically gravitate towards. “Auntie” plays into the hands of almost smooth jazz and rhythm and blues with muted guitar tones and soul-filled harmonies. Building to a climax of electric guitar riffs and powerhouse vocals, this track is sonically unique from the group’s normal pace.

“Lovers and Friends”

The sonic summer jam that is “Metaxy” serves as a point of nostalgia for the bandmates. This song is an organ-driven ode to the days the group played in busy bars on long nights. In a mid-tempo carefree melody, the group urges the listener to find clarity in all the chaos. “Just don’t mistake the middle for the end,” Webster and Glenn sing at the end of “Metaxy,” offering one of the album’s core messages. Through both gradual and sudden transformations, unexpected bends and dips, the band never quite settles into routine.

The band’s previous two albums, A Remedy (2015), and Healing (2019), showcase the group’s tender storytelling and effortless instrumental arrangements. You Only Get A Few shakes up the group’s previous sound by exploring untapped dynamics, evolving musical themes, and grooves previously less explored within the band.

With heavy philosophical themes in a particularly chaotic day and age, the group prioritizes healing and togetherness throughout their latest album.

Upstate is currently on a US tour in support of You Only Get a Few.

Upstate 2023 Tour Dates

04/13 – Baltimore, MD – The 8×10

04/14 – Washington, DC – Pearl Street Warehouse

04/15 – Wayne, PA – 118 North

04/21 – South Burlington, VT – Higher Ground

04/22 – Portland, ME – One Longfellow Square 

04/27 – Syracuse, NY – 443 Social Club

04/28 – Buffalo, NY – Buffalo Iron Works

04/29 – Rochester, NY – Flour City Station

05/05 – Albany, NY – Lark Hall

Featured photo by Bridget Badore

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