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Steve Strongman - A Natural Fact

Self Release

On this, Canadian Steve Strongman’s first acoustic release, there are elements of the blues throughout, mostly in his use of instrumentation. There are no what you could really call blues songs here. He’s a singer-songwriter much like Keb Mo’, who does the occasional blues song perhaps to give him street “cred”. That is not to say everything here isn’t well done and highly listenable. He is a very nimble-fingered acoustic guitarist and in possession of a strong, clear and pleasant voice. He gets occasional assistance from piano, upright bass and drums, but this is basically an acoustic project. All the songs are original with help from producer Rob Szabo or drummer Dave King at times.

Steve gets things off to a toe-tapping start with the upbeat and infectious guitar groove he applies to “Haven’t Seen It Yet”. “The Mood” includes the first appearance of piano man extraordinaire Jesse O’Brien. Things you said that you wish you could take back is the subject of “Can’t Go Back”, which showcases Steve’s fluid slide guitar technique. “Secret” would be well suited to Lindsey Buckingham. The duet with Suzie Vinnick on “Leaving” reveals her to have a fine tough-girl voice similar to Bonnie Bramlett. The tune also treats the listener to more boogie-woogie piano. Much of the material skirts the styles of Lyle Lovett, Jonathan Edwards, Chris Smither, David Bromberg and others of that ilk. Lovett comes to mine in the jaunty goodtime “I Forgot” which has some nice melodic slide as well as harmonica. “Pop-blues” ala James Taylor shows up in “Rockin’ Chair Blues”. A finger-picking-slide feast is provided on “You Do It To Yourself”. “The skip-along quality of “Full Of You” shows the Jonathan Edwards influence, complete with “Gonna Lay Around The Shanty And Put A Good Buzz On” harmonica. Harmonica and handclaps are the sole accompaniment of the gospel-infused closing song “Just One Thing”.

This all adds up to one great listen. The combination of great vocals and guitar technique along with fine arrangements and production values make this a prime contender for the blues-inflected singer-songwriter arena. With the right promotion his songs would make a fine addition to any like-minded radio station’s playlist. Steve’s guitar playing, whether finger-picking or slide propels the songs along giving a bluesy-feel throughout. The piano skills of Jesse O’Brien are an extra bonus, although he only makes an appearance on less than half of the tracks. The rhythm section always provides a good foundation. Give this record a try and you’ll find much to like here.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

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