Red House Records
It’s just the light we need. These songs were written during a time of hard hits and dark moments. Steve Poltz is a songwriter. It is his job to guide us through the chaos. Steve has done this by choosing love over hate, and light over dark. This album is a call to arms of sorts, project your light into the darkness and Shine On.
Steve Poltz is a nonconformist, he’s adamant about it. Perhaps that’s why some of us are just now finding out how brilliant he is. Shine On is his eleventh album. Originally from Canada, Steve Poltz recently moved kicking and screaming to Nashville from California. He met a kindred spirit in Producer Will Kimbrough, they drank coffee, philosophized about global peace, and let us in on what they found. Shine On!
Everyone who’s anyone in corporate music will tell you to start an album off with a song that charges in and hooks the fan. Instead Steve Poltz begins his album with a softly spoken existential plea for peace and light with “Shine On”.
“Feel the feel. Taste what’s real. Jump in the ocean and bark like a seal. And if you’re gonna reach, reach for the sky. Smile at a stranger. Let the tears fly. Celebrate peace. Don’t pick fights. Communicate love. Turn on your light. Shine On”
This album is a recipe for looking at things differently. In “Ballin’ On A Wednesday” Steve asks, “What’s the use of working for the weekend when the weekend ends too quick”? Jangling guitars, grooving beat, and killer slide make a good argument for “work than play then work the next day”. I’m with Steve, T.G.I.W.! The waltz “Windows Of Halifax” is absolutely brilliant. We always wonder what the walls would say. Steve tells us exactly what the windows say when they speak to each other. Think about it, windows see everything and tell it like it is. They’re myopic. It’s not in their nature to distort or make judgement. Walls by design have more of a supporting role. They do what they have to do to hold things together.
Songs pay tribute to the music or artists that have influenced them. Steve Poltz likes the Grateful Dead. Probably more than a fan, he’s apparently a student. “Over The Top For You” sounds and is crafted in a way that could have been written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia. The flatpicking, bass, mandolin, and harmonies nail the sound beautifully. The iconic sound of girl groups like The Raelettes is evident in the pop-country, “The Pickup Song”, a tongue in cheek breakup song that is pure rock and roll with heavy drum and guitar licks. I love the nod to Ray Charles’ breakup song “Hit The Road Jack” with the “Hotline!” callback. This feel is also evident in the groovy lust ballad “Pharmacist” which incorporates probably every instrument Will could get his hands on to create all the weird sounds. It’s a good sounding trip.
With light comes love and this album has it. “Come To Me In The Morning” is a song about being there when you need someone. It’s a Dylanesque ballad with a stringband feel that incorporates slide and intonation on electric guitar. “Furthest Star” transitions between a simple almost childlike and secretive vibe to a more confident drum infused feel. Perfect compliment to the conflictive lyrics. “4th Of July” has a Levon essence about it with delicate mandolin and heartfelt vocals. It is a song that recalls a first real true love.
“Well the quilt of life is made of many patches. And the stitches all look seamless on the 4th of July. You spark my heart just like a book of matches. And I love to fall asleep by your heavenly light.”
The album ends with “All Things Shine”. It’s a rocker. In case you missed the message of the album, Steve reminds us that, “the world’s stepped over the line. No warning no sign, it’s gonna take some time. But all things shine.” Shine On!
Shine On was recorded in Nashville at Kimbrough Super Service with Steve Poltz on guitar and vocals, Bryan Owings on drums, and Will Kimbrough on all other guitars, bass and weird sounds. Will Kimbrough produced and engineered the album. Brad Jones at Alex the Great mixed the album. The album was mastered by Jim Demain at Yes Master. Photos and album art by Chad Cochran, Laura E. Partain, and Kim Neiman. All songs are written by Steve Poltz with co writes with Scot Sax, Anthony Da Costa, Molly Tuttle, and Oliver Craven.
Steve Poltz is a folksinger, songwriter, musician, comedian and more. Mainstream is not in his vocabulary and that means he’s somewhat of the elusive puzzle that is today’s music scene. It takes a bit of effort to find his music but once you do you’re a fan for life. Steve Poltz enjoys a fame that is true to both artist and fan. Get the record. Go see him live. Tell your friends. Share the love. Shine On.
- Viola Krouse