Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst HEY!

Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst
Silent City Records

Putting the Alt. Into the Dark Heart of Americana

For someone who lurks in the musical shadows rather than headlining festivals; I really look forward to Steven Casper’s albums; and it seems I’m always surprised and pleased with the contents in equal measure.
Yet again he’s pulled together a bunch of nothing less than ‘interesting songs’ that have kept me entertained on a couple of longish car journeys in the last few days.
The band kick things off with a raucous rendition of Absolutely Sweet Marie; which owes a lot more to the Jason & The Scorchers Cowpunk version than it does Bobby Dylan’s original.
This is followed by the first of Casper’s own songs; the maudlin and haunting By Your Side which somehow puts the Alt. straight into the dark heart of Americana in the way the Folkie instrumentation and Casper’s woeful vocals tell a sad, sad tale of his feelings as and after his Mother died, pre-pandemic.
This leads us further into the shadows with Cold Dark Hole which could easily be a lost The Band track that’s dusted off for the 21st Century not least because of the Garth Hudsonesque organ that sweeps and swoops in and out like the Angel of Death;
You can be her Samson or her Romeo
You can pick your poison and see how that goes
Her fingers beckon you closer and somehow you know
That you’re gonna wind up lying in a cold dark hole.

When it finally arrives Howling at The Moon is actually a bit of light relief; as Steven recounts his teenage days ‘feeling free ….. with wine, weed and friends being the only things he needed.”
The album closes with another dark and very personal missive about the breakup of a relationship; that will touch the hearts of many who hear it; as the singer pours his heart out ….
It’s so damned hard to say goodbye
And it’s hard to let go of all the things that you know
It’s so damned hard to say goodbye
Seems a long long way From the life that we made and I can’t find my way
Can’t find my way. 
Tucked away in the middle are a couple of absolute corkers that raise the bar for what we know about Americana and even Alt. Country; the first, Easy sounds like it could have been a Sturgill Simpson/Jason Isbell co-write late one Friday night; and the title track Hey! with its crunchy guitars and powder keg drumming and bass aligned to Casper’s distinctive singing style is a sure fire end of show ‘punch the airathon’ that the songwriter can be really proud to have created.
Yet …. there is still one other song that tops both of these…. ‘how could that be?’ You might well ask; but with the stunningly and starkly beautiful Motherless Child Steven Casper enters brand new and slightly dangerous territory; but the addition of Linda McCrary Fisher performing a mother’s cry is absolute genius on a lo-fi rendition that will having you holding your breath so as not to spoil the mood that the collective have created.
Hence, Motherless Child is by far my Favourite Song on a really special album.

Released 6th May 2022


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