Turn Of The Wheel

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Turn Of The Wheel

As Covid-19 takes its toll on almost every aspect of our lives, rock ‘n’ roll, put in its proper perspective for once, is not excepted. A particularly disappointing casualty of the risks associated with worldwide travel and human gatherings has been the inevitable cancellation of The Steepwater Band’s 2020 UK dates. If there’s any consolation to be had, the pandemic has not prevented the release of Turn Of The Wheel, the band’s seventh studio album.

Like its worthy predecessors Turn Of The Wheel mines a diversity of influences and is stylistically variable, but within the defined and well-developed Steepwater sound. Finely-judged positioning of tracks across the collection offers the listener variations of approach, tempo and delivery.

Bassist Tod Bowers has amicably stepped aside since 2016’s Shake Your Faith, replaced by Joe Bishop who is frequently adventurous but studiedly solid in playing for the song. Fleshing out the TSB sound are welcome passages and inserts from guest keyboardist Chris Grove and saxophonist Terry ‘Sonny Lee’ Tritt, the latter especially adding supplementary soul to the funk of ‘That’s Not The Way’. If TSB is a self-contained self-sufficient unit, these contributions, and others, are prudent enhancements of their sound, where restraint and subtlety ensure that a potential runaway juggernaut is always held in control.

‘Trance’ is a case in point, a pulsing rocker where Jeff Massey’s vocal never has to compete with the controlled rumble. The singer is assertive without histrionics or over-stretching, whilst the title track demonstrates Eric Saylors’s bottleneck subtlety in an arrangement built around a crunching chordal riff, and all held together by drummer Joe Winters. Saylors expertly handles the filthy bottleneck riffing on ‘Lost On You’ featuring a heavily-effected Massey vocal, and its rhythmic shifts and changes are again expertly bossed by Winters. When required, Massey too can deliver more stridently, the edgy shuffle of ‘Please The Believer’ supplying the evidence.

Offering further diversity and dynamics are ‘Big Pictures’, founded on a rolling rhythm, as if Neil Young meets Britpop head on, and ‘Make It Right’ boogies melodically, with a lovely live vibe to the recording. There’s a more reflective country feel – but with bite - to ‘In The Dust Behind’ and in the nautical motifs of ‘Abandon Ship’.

‘The Peace You’re Looking For’ closes Turn Of The Wheel, a pleasing counter melody in the guitar riff a melodic hook on its own, and it is matched for radio-friendliness and pleasing light and shade dynamics with ‘Running From The Storm’, the nagging earworm of a very worthwhile release.





Date added: Jun 09, 2020

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