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Steve Lawson "Grace and Gratitude" CD Review
On one of the occasions that I bumped into him at the NAMM show back in January I managed to wheedle a copy of Steve's latest CD "Grace and Gratitude" out of him. Well, actually, I bought it from him. But, I had the distinct feeling he didn't have all that many copies on his person at that particular moment in time so I was very thankful he was willing to sell me one (and cheap too). Fittingly, in the aforementioned gratitude, I offer this humble review:
Grace and Gratitude
I have to say up front, that I am completely, totally prejudiced concerning loopy Britt bass player, Steve Lawson. He is not just one of my favorite bassists, but one of my favorite musicians -- period. In fact he's on a very short list of bassists that really make me wish I'd stuck with the bass (which I played when I was 10) and not moved to the guitar (at age 11). Sigh! It's too darn late now bub.
His new CD, "Grace and Gratitude," is another step in Steve's musical evolution. It has a nice mixture of "light" and "shadow" to it. There are still the expected lovely loop/groove-based melodic pieces here and there, but there is also a chilly sinister dissonance lurking at the edges that I don't think I've heard (as such) in his music before -- plus he offers up just a dash of occasional funkiness this time 'round too.
Yes, Steve is a "looper" (user of a variety of digital delay devices to musically "clone" himself in performance) but the technology never gets in the way of the music. This CD also reveals a remarkable talent for tasty faux guitar playing as well, by his sometimes pitch-shifting (and occasionally distorting) his bass sound -- nicely filling out that part of the musical spectrum on a number of tunes. Unlike some guitarists who should never, ever attempt to play bass, Steve pulls the reverse off with quite convincing panache. Speaking as a guitarist, it's just plain not fair!
As a fellow musician, it would be very, very easy to jealously resent the fact Steve brings to his music a complete package of all-around spontaneous compositional skills, a childlike inventive playfulness, real showmanship, and a truly unnerving command of his instrument that goes well beyond the usual assumptions of its musical role. But, some of the tunes he comes up with (again and again on disc after disc) are so doggone emotionally pure, vulnerable and lovely it is hard to maintain that attitude and listen to him for very long without being totally musically seduced all over again.
If you like "honest" music and have big enough ears that you don't particularly care that it doesn't fall neatly and easily into any specific, tidy box of preconceptions, this may be your disc. Watch out though -- it may literally turn you head around musically as to just what a bass guitarist is supposed to sound like.
tEd ® kiLLiAn
"Different is not always better, but better is always different"
Ted Killian's "Flux Aeterna" is also available at: Apple iTunes,
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