STEVEN GRAVES | CAPTAIN SOUL
by Will Phoenix
Santa Cruz, California-based Steven Graves is a singer-songwriter and guitarist’s new album, Captain Soul, takes him in an interesting, new direction. Unlike his last effort, Mission Bell, this one–while still containing elements of country and folks, is infused with a bit of rock ‘n’ roll. Graves (lead vocals and guitars) is ably assisted and backed by a core group of performers including David Mendoza (Lydia Pense & Coldblood) on bass, drummer and singer David Tucker (Tommy Castro, Maria Mauldar), saxophonist Armen Boyd (Big Band Beat), vocalist Alysha Antonino (Pete Escovido), keyboardist Jon Dryden (Norah Jones), pedal steel player Bruce Wandmayer (Trailer Park Troubadours) plus numerous other session artists.
The 11-track disc opens on the unexpected, blues-tinged tune “Light Turns To Day.” This “Love conquers all” song goes out with a jam. It includes noteworthy backing vocals by Antonino, Tammi Brown and Bryan Dyer.
Graves keeps thing moving with “Man From A Different Planet.” While one or two misguided souls might imply some political message because of their own leanings, the truth is, this has a broader message than that concerning the feeling of “not fitting in” and was inspired in part by the death of David Bowie. It’s upbeat and fun and includes traces of Pink Floyd and, of course, Bowie.
“Walk With Me” is an early fave of the critics. It’s a slightly slower, gentler cut that nevertheless remains as passionate as the other audio offerings. He picks things up again with the upbeat, positive, pop-infected “Somewhere, Somehow” which is highlighted by Boyd’s sax.
“Take You For A Ride” has a media-friendly feel to it. It’s definitely the record’s rocker. It provides just enough contrast to “Fly Like A Dove” which is a Zen, new age-influenced number that has a prety intro and includes the not quite too sweet children’s choir which includes Harper and Zen Graves, Jasmine Yarema, Ashton Turner, Dylan Holsberger and Kumato Alm.
“Forever Wild” follows here. It’s one of those songs that is somehow vaguely familiar and yet obviously new. “Called Her An Angel”, while another example of his talents as a songwriter and musician, deviates slightly from his signature sound.
“No One Left To Blame” also takes listeners in a different direction. Graves’ guitar-work is vaguely Santana-like here in a song that seems like it would work wonderfully in a live setting. “Heaven In Your Hands” is a bit more mellow and contains almost Clapton-like moments. It is highlighted by Wandmayer’s pedal steel Art Alm’s piano.
Not to be confused with Paul McCartney and Wings 1971 hit, “Another Day” is also an original. It’s a nice closing cut wherein Graves gets personal and shares some of himself.
Overall, this is a refreshing recording for his fans and perhaps one of his best audio offerings yet. Check out Steve graves’ Captain Soul. It might just “Take You For A Ride” on what otherwise would just be “Another Day.”