We last heard from NYC singer-songwriter Steven Blane a couple of Christmases ago, his 2019 holiday single First Christmas something we found to be an “effervescently light and jazzy retooling of the holiday spirit“. We’re thrilled to find that Blane is now back with a full-length album, a work titled Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Set for release in September 2021, this self-produced project is every bit of the honesty, sincerity, and simplicity that we’ve come to know and love from a Steven Blane record.
HERE’S WHAT WE DUG MOST…
The album opens with a taste of pure, ethereal goodness in sonic form. Cruel to Me is raw emotion on display, Blane’s rich vibrato and the track’s simplistic production setting the story at the center of it all. It has a particularly classic sound, strongly reminiscent of the crooners we’ve seen influence his work in the past – but here, it is fully embodied (in between the powerhouse blues vocal riffs, that is).
Every Night I Dream Of You has a bit of ’50s pop polish, simplistic in execution, and the light piano a perfect addition in the track’s second half. Indeed, any more instrumentation would likely get in the way of the purity of it all – and with nothing to hide behind, each element shines in its own right.
There’s a moment of tenderness and sincerity on The Bridge. A gentle but imploring cry for unity and togetherness, this track is the embodiment of open arms before a warm embrace. There are brilliant lyrical moments all over this project, but this track does a fine job of showcasing Blane’s ability to extend his use of simplicity into his word choice, creating a full image but trimming all of the unnecessary “fat” away:
“Could be our last chance
the road is long and steep
I got dreams and plans
And promises to keep
Walk the bridge of hope
Walk the bridge of dreams“
Mother Got My Goose is a clever take on quite a few classics. Here Blane blends several nursery rhymes into one cohesive story, with a little bit of his own narrative mixed in for good measure. The somber ballad feel of this track seems perhaps out of place at first, until it becomes evident that the plot that Blane has worked into these childhood classics is indeed a melancholy tale – unexpected, to be sure, but incredibly well-executed.
We also love Bliss for its dreamy, easy feeling that seems to perfectly embody the title (and message) of the track, as well as the closing track Guardian Angel for its heartwarming storytelling of the quick passing of time and the loved ones we must leave behind as we go.
OUR FAVORITE TRACK…
With a title like Pour Me A Beer That’s As Cold As My Ex-Girlfriend’s Heart, this song will undoubtedly grab the attention of anyone perusing the tracklist on the back of this album. But beyond the title, this track fully delivers just the kind of musicality you might expect with such a name – a sad story, set in the bar, and making allusions to both Irish drinking songs and downtrodden blues ballads. The entire track does indeed focus on the moment described in the title, but the longer you listen, the more descriptive this singular metaphor seems to become:
“I wrote me a song, it was all about her
The way that we are and the way that we were
She acted in love, and I played my part
Pour me a beer that’s as cold as my ex-girlfriend’s heart”
Steven Blane‘s work continues to be proof that good music is comprised of the things that are included as much as the things that are not. One simply does not need the bells and whistles of a modern musician’s typical toolkit to create sonic art that resonates with listeners and tells its stories with clarity. With his refreshingly straightforward sound, evocative lyric writing, and truly dynamic vocal performance to tie it all together, Boulevard of Broken Dreams is a stunning mix of individual artistry and vintage elements coming together seamlessly, and with an extraordinarily high level of true musical excellence.
BELOW: Listen to Boulevard of Broken Dreams and connect with his website and social media platforms. Please support Steven Blane by visiting him online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music, or attending a live show! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!
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