The world outside of the insular southwestern underground is re-introduced to the hard-working Arizona-based Dorsten in their new single “To the River,” which comes just after the arrival of their much-awaited new extended play London Sessions released this past May. The country has been having somewhat of a renaissance year in the Americana scene, but no band seems to have critics talking more than Dorsten, and word of their sterling reputation as a profound act has even spread to international ears. “To the River” is everything we could have hoped for in a new outing for the pair, and I had the privilege of previewing the track before its release. To say I was impressed with what I heard would be putting it quite mildly, and I expected quite a lot out of this band.


Equally influenced by vintage folk rock and alternative folk, Dorsten’s sound doesn’t copy the formulas of past iconic groups but instead borrows some of the best elements of classic music and forges them into an identity all their own. From the opening wail of the song, we know that we’re listening to something tough, abrasive, and heavily steeped in 21st-century modernism. There’s plenty of old-school thrust, but the band is very careful to avoid drifting into hazardous retro territory. To answer the obvious question – yes, this song could fit in with any melodic indie playlist, American or otherwise, but Dorsten is not a reprint of a Crazy Horse tribute band that should have hung it up years ago.

2023 needed a hot Americana track to shake up the charts, and “To the River” is just the dose of cutting-edge emotionality that the doctor ordered. It’s sleek enough to appeal to the casual pop crowd but spaciously designed for true hipsters to enthusiastically appreciate its thousands of steaming nuances. I’ve always said that first impressions will make or break you in this business, and from the very moment I pressed play on this single for the first time, I knew that I was listening to something significant in this era in Americana. Dorsten is going to be a smash hit, but more importantly, I think they’re going to shine a light on a scene that has never gotten full recognition for its diversity.

I loved what Dorsten’s first EP was made of, and if future songs are on par with the level of sheer tenacity that “To the River” comes packing in spades, this brother/sister duo might be one of the more important acts of the autumn. It’s hard to determine where any artist or band will be five or ten years from now (all the more when they’re at the very start of their career), but I have a really good feeling about what this Arizona crew is doing and where it could take them in this unfolding new chapter of Americana history. I’ll be following them along the way, and I’m certain I won’t be alone among fans and critics keeping an eye on the indie beat this year.

Garth Thomas