Steven Brown released his new album, and I got a little sneak preview. I’m glad he did.
This has soundtracked a rainy miserable March morning for me, and it’s soothing to the soul. Why? I’m glad you asked.
I’m going in. Cover me.
The album opener starts off as a stomper, it gets up with some sweet harmonies, the rhythm section lays down a groove that switches from a shuffle reminiscent of Rosanna by Toto but falls short of the Purdie Shuffle, as it gets going into a driving led by the drums… Oh and shout out to the strings! This is such a sweet track and- whoah. Dead stop. Did someone tell Steven about my sweet spot for dead stops?
Here Be Monsters
This is by far my favourite track on the album, the harmonies make it sound dark, and there’s a violin solo that opens up the track, Steven’s vocals come in accompanied by guitar, which tells me that this has the possibility of being stripped back entirely and being performed as an acoustic number. While “Sailboat” is such a joyful song in both lyrics and melody this is dark. Watch out for the scat vocals – nice job on this one…. Everyone shines on this track, it’s radio friendly, ready to be rocked out live. A beauty of a track that ends with lots of reverb with the vocals floating into the ether… NICE.
Working On A Dream
Third track in and Steven’s made use of his brilliant band, the bass player’s got a nice passage to play melodically running through, playing high end notes that counter along with the main vocals. This is my second favourite, I have a love for acoustic led number, such a lovely melody in the verse that gets in your head easily it’s just one of those ones you want to jump to at a concert. It kind of reminds me of a group called Delirious? They were a Christian rock band from the 90s that found success in the mainstream, and were well known for their rousing choruses… Made me feel nostalgic. Great song!
I’m An Army
Ahhh the shouted “1234!” It starts off lyrically as a song that makes you think Steven’s writing about war, but… no he’s singing surprisingly (No pun intended) about fighting for someone… There’s lots of lyrical images about war, and the chants of “Put your guard down” and “Keep your head down” again work as a great way to get the crowd going as you can imagine the crowd singing that almost as a football chant. Love it. There’s a piano solo which brings it to its natuaral conclusion as Steven sings the chorus passionately twice. Nice piano noodling by the way!
Love Is A Lesson
Piano led ballad, with some really nice harmonies on this. Ooohhh tempo change! That snuck up on me… and it’s got an acoustic guitar solo, albeit a short one, but still a little noodle on the acoustic… Steven loves his choruses that are uplifting both melodically and lyrically, and this is used to his benefit. Great tune.
This one’s stripped back, and moody. Acoustic guitar led accompaniment in 6/8 time – I love this time signature. And the harmonies, piano, and harmonies make it such a lovely combo, sometimes, you just don’t need anything else to make an impact – that said, when that big chorus hits towards the end, that really gives it gravitas – “Can you hear our prayer? Is there someone there?” Wow. Round of applause for the band, especially the drummer by the way, nice use of ghost notes on the snare and ride cymbal, and great acoustic guitar solo to play it out….
Oh dear God, Steve where did you get those high notes from???
This is gorgeous. You can just imagine just Steven sat with an acoustic guitar on an empty stage with a single spotlight and as the instruments come in the spotlight falls on them too… The strings really give it some weight, I can imagine a full orchestra backing on this, this takes me back to thinking that it could easily have been recorded at Abbey Road…. I need to listen to this again. Hold on.
One of the things I like about this album is that it’s got dark and light elements expressed through the lyrics and melodies, there’s no reason to go with a consistently happy vibe, and this is evident in Steve’s work. Coming from the happy vibe of “Joy” it goes to a minor chord here, and shows Steve’s versatility. I love the use of the harp on this song, playing hypnotically.
Come Out Shooting
Now I know that Steve is an afro drummer which is probably why there are two tracks that use 6/8 time and of course… there’s got to be one with percussion in there. Claves on the 4th beat, nice touch then joined later with other little bits… is that… a cowbell??The strings are used beautifully on this, and nice piano solo again to play it out. I get the feeling that the writing sessions for these songs were a joy, because just listening to the songs just gives me a nice warm feeling.
Fag Butts And Dreams
This conjurs up a lot of different images, back to the 6/8 time signature, and the harp is playing a kind of Celtic theme which floats over the sound of wind blowing… the harmonies and vocals really are something on this… You could imagine this as a show opener as an instrumental and the drums coming in turning into a power rock number a la “Nothing Else Matters”…. Yum.
New Years Blessings
This is where I met Steve. Around the time of the release of this song so I’m glad that he included it, what we have here is a wish for good new year’s tidings, the guitars and harp stutter through an effect processor, every so often in this song and has that 6/8 feel again… And I believe if memory serves me it’s his daughter singing the outro. Still such a gorgeous song and apt for what 2020 gave us.
Gold Beneath Your Feet
For the album closer, this is a piano ballad, with an upright bass, this… this is beautiful. “There is gold in every footstep…” and that falsetto is back… I really can’t say too much on this one, except that it’s beautifully written and Steven deserves airplay for the entire album just based on this song alone…
I’d love to give a shout out to the people who made this happen…
Drums – Rick Kershaw
Piano – Euan Stevenson https://euanstevenson.com
Harp – Rachael Gladwin http://rachaelgladwin.co.uk
String Quartet by Surge Strings http://surgeorchestra.com/index.html
Aria Trigas Payne – Violin 1
Ruth Angell – Violin 2
Sarah Farmer – Viola
Emma Capp – Cello
Mastered by Jim Spencer at EVE Mastering http://evestudios.co.uk/mastering/
How nice to hear music that you can actually understand the words. Positive album in these times of trouble.
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