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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Steepwater Band

Clava

Review by Greg Olma

I have had the good fortune of seeing  The Steepwater Band in a live setting on multiple occasions.  They have always been in the opening slot at those shows but they certainly made the most of their time on stage.  I always felt they were good and that they had that organic rock feel; just a few guys bashing out some catchy rock tunes.  Now that I have been given the chance to hear their music in the confines of my home, the same feeling holds true.  These guys are not looking to re-invent the wheel but they are trying to put their spin on an era where music was played by a group of guys that had the same vision for their sound.  I often find that too much of today’s music is missing the vibe that only a “true” band can give.   Jeff Massey has a great 70s rock singer voice (i.e. not a screamer) while Tod Bowers and Joe Winters lay down a solid rhythm with plenty of groove.  I hear bits and pieces of the great 70s bands here but somehow it still has a slight updated sound which makes for a great record.  It sounds familiar but still new.  If you are into good old fashioned rock, then I highly recommend Clava.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Remember the Taker

The disc starts off in a very subdued fashion.  It’s a plodding rock track that paints a picture of a lazy summer day enjoying a beer under the hot sun.  I really like the guitar solo because Massey doesn’t overplay the track.  The solo fits perfectly into the mood of the song and only adds to the overall feel.  I think it is also a brave move to take the longest track (this one clocks in at over 6 minutes) and make it the starting statement.

Vanishing Girl

I’m catching a Black Sabbath Master Of Reality vibe on this one, especially on the main riff.  After the slower start on this record, this cut really kicks it in a bit.  I’ve listened to this record about a dozen times and I think this piece is probably my favorite.

Come On Down

This track has bit of a country feel to it especially during the slide guitar solo. Still, elsewhere is has great rock swagger.  It’s an upbeat rocker that brings in another element of that great 70s rock sound.

Love Never Ends
I hear early Tom Petty on this one.  It has a really catchy rock chorus that will have you humming the melody for days.  When I really listen to this cut, it’s so simple yet so effective.  This is the kind of tune on which rock radio was built. 
Bury My Burden Deep
There is a mellow sounding  hint at “Vanishing Girl” at the beginning of this tune but it morphs into a Beatles-eque rock tune that has that John Lennon vocal style.   That is what I like about these guys.  They are not afraid to dig deep into an influence (and let’s face it, almost everyone is influenced by The Beatles in some way) without sounding like a blatant rip-off.
High And Humble

This cut just struts out of the speakers with a great Led Zeppelin vibe written all over it.  It’s a mid-tempo rocker that oozes everything that was great about rock back in the day.  The main riff is very infectious and it will keep going through your head all day (in a good way of course).

Won’t Be Long For Now

Here is a slow blues cut that has some nice keyboards.  Massey really stretches out and puts in a great solo.  Normally I don’t really like tracks like this because they seem to go nowhere, but I could easily see myself enjoying it even if it was twice as long.  After a number of upbeat tunes, this cut is a welcome laid-back number.

Out On Love

Short and sweet is the best description for this fast paced rocker.  Before you know it, the song is done but just like the previous tune, it adds a nice variation to the overall album.

Off The Rails
Things slow down again for a mid-paced rocker.  Even though it is a good tune, it’s probably my least favorite on Clava.  In my opinion, it stands out the least from the other songs. In an album full of winners, this one just seems average.  If the band didn’t set the bar so high, then I would rate this cut a little higher.
Meet Me In The Aftermath

The disc ends in a cool upbeat Tom Petty-ish style song.  I also feel that this is the most modern sounding of all the tunes on the record and, being this is a varied album that says something.  I like that they chose this cut to end the album on because it just makes you want to start the thing all over again. 

 
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