I know it’s been a while since I’ve done an album review and I am so sorry! Doing Riot Fest in Chicago and then jetting over to Las Vegas for Punk Rock Bowling absolutely left me feeling drained for a few days but I’m back now and then some! If you aren’t personally friends with me, you probably haven’t heard the news or even had a clue but ever since I’ve started this blog, I’ve had a full-time day job and have been running a booking company. That changes starting tomorrow. I quit the day job and am chasing after my dream of living the life. This means more time to review, more time to book, and, well, just more time to do what I love. I’m terrified about this giant leap but am oh so excited and I am really looking for some new music to help soundtrack this giant life change. Will Steven Lee Lawson’s self-titled album be the one to do that? Let’s take a listen and find out!
“Economics” kicks this nine-track album off and almost instantly, I found myself covered in a sense of warmth that comes from Steven Lee Lawson’s voice. There’s a little southern twang in it but overall this opening track strays away from being classified as a country or even southern track. Acoustic but with an energetic edge to it, this isn’t exactly what I thought I was in the mood for but as this first track ended and made way for “Corpse Rising”, I realized that it was hitting the spot perfectly.
The mood shifts completely for “Corpse Rising”. Okay, maybe using the word “completely” is a bit of an exaggeration because the vocals make it clear that this is still a track from Steven Lee Lawson but it’s definitely a change from the opening track. There’s a touch of heartbreak in the words and a grungier approach to the overall instrumentation in this song. A hazy recording quality just adds a sense of power to that grunge vibe and, although a fairly short song, it absolutely packs a punch and had me completely lost so I was a bit surprised as “Misaligned” took over my speakers and changed the vibe again. Bringing back the clearer-styled recording quality, this track brought a more folksy mood to the album. It was during this track that I really found myself honing in on Steven’s brilliant lyrics. A musician, yes, but clearly a storyteller, this track was instantly a favorite of mine. There’s something almost a bit theatrical about the presentation of the vocals which is only enhanced by horns that come in and out throughout this brilliant track.
Like clockwork, the mood shited yet again as the album moves onto the all-too-short “I Ain’t Good Enough”. I was instantly reminded of AJJ (fka Andrew Jackson Jihad) just due to the vocal styling and grungier take on the guitar work. Unfortunately, this track is under two minutes and when I finally pulled myself away from being lost in the track, it was over, and “The Forsaken” had taken over. It goes without saying that the mood shifts yet again for this one. A much slower and more tender track, I love the mood and sense of darkness that this track brings to the album. Even though it’s nearly five minutes long, there’s a driving force behind this track that makes it fly by but not before getting you hooked.
The mood lightens up ever so slightly to an almost playful nature with “Melodies”. Even though it doesn’t feel as heavy as “The Forsaken”, there’s a slight sense of darkness in the vocals and the minor chords being hit on the piano before the song hits its stride as a happy-go-lucky jam. It’s a cool contrast that made this track another standout among an album full of stellar tracks but it didn’t hold a candle to “Black Moon” when it comes to landing on my list of favorite tracks from this album. “Black Moon” brings an infectious beat to the table and an undeniable sense of passion in the vocals that, although is there throughout this release, seems to really hit a peak during this track.
“Never Wanna Takin’ You Home” is the longest track on this album at right around five and a half minutes long but like “The Forsaken”, it doesn’t feel like that. This is a gorgeous track that goes through multiple movements of energy without making it obvious. The tenderness in Steven’s vocals really takes the cake on this track and makes it an addicting track that, like “Economics”, brought me such a sense of warmth. I’m not typically one for long songs just because my attention span seems to get shorter by the day but I listened to this track on repeat a few times before being able to move onto the final track on this brilliant album.
Although I would have loved to hear this album end up a grungey track like I had heard throughout the previous tracks, ending with the country-like ballad “Sapphires” was truly a stunning way to end this journey. That country twang I heard in “Economics” comes back with a vengeance during this last track giving the album a feeling of coming full circle. Although not my favorite track on the album stylistically, it made sense and left me feeling more than satisfied with the adventure that is ‘Steven Lee Lawson’.
My Favorite Track(s): “Misaligned”; “Black Moon”
For Fans Of: Storytelling; Influences that are all over the place
Mosh-ability: 2 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie slept on the back of the couch; Autumn slept upstairs on my bed
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 7.1 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 7 out of 10
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