|Dimensions||21 × 15 × 1.0 cm|
Steve Tyson is a singer and songwriter based in the Byron Bay hinterland. His songs are based on a lifetime of experiences traveling through exotic locations such as Japan, Russia, India, and Scandinavia, and are also enriched by family history. Tales of war, love, murder, and redemption, dripping with satire and black humour, have resonated with music reviewers. His eclectic songs have been presented in two critically acclaimed albums in recent years, and have earned responses like these….. “Tyson is never short of a story. These tunes take the listener to places and times we might never go otherwise” (**** Courier Mail) “In Tyson’s follow-up to his auspicious debut album, family history again proves a rich source of inspiration, with his smoky singing and skilful guitar…” (****Weekend Australian). “Tyson brings a world of experience to his songwriting. You can hear it in his assured story-telling and in the timbre of his voice” (Rhythms). His 2014 release GREEN SIDE UP was included in respected presenter Sista Mary’s Top 10 Australian Albums for that year. Steve’s third album WRONG TRAIN RIGHT STATION is due for release in mid 2017.
Review by Ian Dearden
From the opening instrumental ‘Mumbai Morning’, featuring Steve’s evocative electric slide guitar playing, to his searing electric lead guitar, which plays out the album’s final track, ‘The Sailor And The Mistress’, this album is a tour de force!
‘Wrong Train, Right Station’ is the third solo album from the lead guitarist of the much-loved folk rock band, Rough Red, and apart from a guest lead vocal by Ash Bell (more of that later), the entire album was written, played and recorded by Steve at the idyllic Studio Rue de Temple, in the lush hinterland of Byron Bay.
There’s no instrument listing in the liner notes, but to my ears, Steve demonstrates complete mastery of acoustic, electric and slide guitars, mandolin, banjo, bass, drums and percussion, and of course, his trademark husky and world-weary vocals.
There’s a fair bit of shapeshifting in terms of musical genres, no doubt reflecting Steve’s long and eclectic music making experiences, dating back to the early 1970s.
It essentially falls under the rubric of folk and roots music – what in the USA would be called Americana, but for which there is currently no equivalent Australian nomenclature.
To be more specific, there’s everything from the traditional folk-sounding ‘Cavvanbah’, a classic trope of ‘I caught my best mate with my wife, killed him, and now I’m on the run’, through the 80’s Aussie pub rock sound of ‘Three Hundred Miles’, the gospel blues of ‘Devil Come Knocking’, featuring slabs of Steve’s searing electric lead playing, the delightful, drunken country music style tale of lost love in ‘Five Days To Christmas’ and the wonderful country rock melange of electric guitars and banjo on ‘Abacus’.
The album highlight, to my ears at least, is the duet with Ash Bell from Starboard Cannons on a retelling of the Kelly legend, ‘A Short Life And A Merry One’, which rolls out as a dialogue between Steve Hart and Dan Kelly, recounting the final showdown at Glenrowan, and the (presumed) final suicide pact of Hart and Kelly.
Although there have been many songs about the Kelly saga, this song recounts the story from two of the lesser known protagonists, and is all the more powerful for its unique perspective.
It also features gorgeous acoustic slide guitar, mandolin and banjo playing from Steve, which superbly complements the story-telling arc of the song.
In short, it’s a terrific album, full of aural and lyrical twists, turns and delights, from one of Australia’s leading contemporary songwriters.
Steve is out touring in support of the new album as I write this review – don’t miss him, and make sure you get this (and his two previous solo albums) for your collection.
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