A Little North of Nowhere
Quality Mellow and Laid-Back Americana
I know I shouldn’t, but I do feel guilty when some albums fall by the wayside at RMHQ. Not always of course; but in these days of limited National Media, unsigned acts with no budget for paying for adverts that give them reviews (you know who I mean #wink), it falls to sites like ours to give them a little leg up the ladder of moderate success.
Steve Young? Who he? Why should you care?
Hailing from the legendary Rock and Roll pantheon that is the Isle of Wight, this is the singer-songwriter-guitarists second album and is already a confirmed Favourite of the ‘random button’ on my mobile phone!
My copy is actually two discs, with the second being a series of random ‘live tracks’ that I will come to later; so let’s start with the main album.
The gentle A Fools Dream sets the mood quite perfectly, a laid-back tale of unrequited or is it broken love; whichever Young intricately combines the laid back West Coast sound of my youth with the type of cool stuff Jack Johnson and John Mayer have been dropping into the mainstream over the last few years.
One of my phones favourite tracks is the pleading Trembling Heart which follows, and for a relatively simple song there’s a whole lot going on behind Young’s honeyed voice; as there is throughout the whole album.
For someone who crowd-funded this album; Young has managed a very expensive sounding production worthy of some of America’s more famous studios; most notably on Waiting For My Heart (to catch up with my head) and the delicious Hard Times in a Beautiful Place; which when heard at the proverbial ‘right place and right time’ is quite breathtaking.
While the tour that originally accompanied this release in October was as a support in clubs that are the size of my back bedroom I love the way Steve Young ignores that and throws caution to the wind by writing songs and creating an album that sounds like it is meant for the Radio 2 A Playlist! Which is where you should really be able to hear The Greatest Love Song and/or Guilty By My Eyes; which are both 10 x better/cooler than anything Gary Barlow or Eric Clapton has written in the last 20 years!
In the nicest possible way this is 21st Century Classy Easy Listening; which may be why Mrs Magpie likes it as much as I do; with Beautiful Tonight being her personal favourite and the delicately perceptive My Son; which touched my heart too.
While it could be argued that in more famous hands, this album is full of singles I actually think of it as an old fashioned LP that deserves your full attention and needs to be heard from start to finish in one sitting. That said me and my I-Phone have two Favourite Tracks; the tale of the unheralded troubadour The Great North Road and the charming Celtic tinged love song It’s a Good Thing.
The Bonus Disc is a great throwback too; initially introduced by Sir Bob Harris’ s son Miles and then has Steve introducing or at least talking about four of these live ‘rarities’ which I love, the other two songs are re-mix/re-models of songs from an earlier release.
A couple of stories that link to the songs are really heart rending; and a will really resonate with other songwriters; most notably how he worked on cruise ships between Copenhagen and Oslo, and wrote dark loves songs i his spare time…… which you would of course in such conditions!
Then there is Young’s staggering acoustic re-working of Shine on You Crazy Diamond; which was originally recorded for Harris Jr’s Under The Apple Tree Sessions. I don’t use the word ‘staggering’ lightly here; it was only on the third play that the penny dropped as to what the songs was…..or used t be.
Released October 2018