Steve Black – Right Here and Now
The latest offering from Steve Black is the culmination of over 12 months of writing and trying out songs. The results of this striving being 10 slices of prime storytelling. As ever with a Steve Black record you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and at times you’ll just get lost in the world he has created around you.
The opening song “Driving” inspired by the many miles travelled by Steve and his partner in crime Alan West as they travel the country winning converts as the go. Who could not sympathize with the M25 being a “parking lot” and of someone trying to get back to see their woman? It is a virtual road trip as we follow the journey down the “M3” the “303”, “the Stonehenge turn off”, to be “Devon bound (heaven bound)” . Adam Sweet does some great work on guitar while Alan West chips in with some backing vocals to beef up the overall sound.
“Blood Is Thicker Than Water” is an interesting song as it dovetails into a song from a previous album, the characters in this song being the same as those in “Come On Home”. It portrays the interesting dilemma of what happens when a good man who has vowed to upload the law, has his strength tested by having to lie on the Bible to save his daughter from jail. It goes on to detail the price that is paid for compromising your values “condemned to a life of lies”. As ever the story is painted in such detail while the bluesy shuffle in the background perfectly fits the tale.
“Good Old Country Girl” comes attached to good old country tune, with fiddle and banjo a plenty. A 22 year old girl who makes sense of the world she inhabits by listening to country music. She comes to and leaves “Loretta’s Good Time Bar” on her own having a ball while she is there, always turning down the boys. Only in the bridge is there a hint that things might be awry as there is mention of a “rebel stirring inside”.
“Many Miles From Home” was inspired from the characters in a picture. It is a story about what the course of events could have been that had led to the moment captured in oils. From that initial premise, comes a wondrous ballad, “the cold November night” is painted with words, the characters picked out as having “breath of frosty white”. There’s a sympathetic guitar solo in keeping with the rest of the song.
“Highway Of My Heart” is an attempt to rekindle the days of Hank Williams. In this case, it is a pure love song, one that is always well received at their numerous live shows.
“What Haven’t We Done For A While” picks up the pace somewhat and rather than celebrating a couple on the verge of splitting up it, this song celebrates a couple who have been together for a long time and who are still very much in love.
“Right Here And Now” the title track, is a very gentle song accompanied with some acoustic/Spanish guitar and with a classic violin sound in the background. It is achingly sentimental and a thing of great beauty. Steve saves his best singing performance for this heartfelt plea.
“Part Time Love Affair” the tale of a couple who can only get together at weekends. She is a thousand miles away for unspecified reasons, and Steve details the torment that the man goes through waiting for her return. It comes with some nice backing vocals from Laura Oakes, and some pedal steel that sees it move along at a bright pace.
“Jacob” is the most intriguing song on the album, a song that has touched anyone that has heard it at one of Steve live shows. It has prompted so many people to shower Steve with gifts that he has jokingly mentioned that his next song will be about a £50 note. To explain the story would give away all the fun, just revel in the beautiful playing as the tension gradually builds up and let Steve tell you a story, that is both beautiful and yet slightly eerie as you are never quite sure where it is going.
“Dance With Me” opens with a piano intro, before Steve once again makes a concentrated singing performance, ably assisted by Laura Oakes contributing some really effective and mature backing vocals that really add to the track. It makes a fitting romantic conclusion to the album.
The album has a myriad of styles, there is certainly something there for everyone. It is also a taster for the many live shows that Steve and Alan perform around the country supporting grass roots UK Country music - buy this album, then get out and see them!!