Album review: LITTLE STEVEN – Soulfire

LITTLE STEVEN - Soulfire

Wicked Cool/Big Machine/UMe [Release date 19.05.17]

It has been awhile since Little Steven’s (Steven Van Zandt) last album, 1999′s ‘Born Again Savage’, although he has been busy touring with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, along with TV appearances including ‘The Sopranos’. He has a new Disciples of Soul line-up on the album, where he describes them as an “ever-changing group of misfits, rogues, and roustabouts”. The 15 piece line-up includes three backing vocalists and a full horn section currently featuring original Asbury Jukes/Miami Horns saxophonists Stan Harrison (tenor) and Eddie Manion (baritone).

The songs are a mix of new and older songs, with a large cross over in the work of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes, who Little Steven has worked with. In fact the version of ‘I’m Coming Back’ is one of the album’s many highlights and the song was originally released on Southside Johnny’s ‘Better Days’ album in 1991 (every home should have a copy of that album – ‘Ride The Night Away’ from that same album closes the album). That guitar sound gets me every time, fantastic soul and playing – this is why we love music for moments like that.

‘The City Weeps Tonight’ is a hark back to the classic 50′s/60′s doo wop sound and is a lovely song featuring beautiful backing vocals. This is an artist showing his musical roots and love for the music that shaped his own music.

‘Saint Valentine’s Day’ sounds like a tune Bruce Springsteen would like to record, from the uplifting strings and sassy horns, through to the soaring guitar solo, a real barnstormer of a tune. For some straight ahead rock ‘Ride The Night Away’ takes the listener on a rollercoaster ride – just listen to passion of the music and musicians, breath taking. Oh and the guitar solo isn’t too bad either…

Little Steven has created an album that celebrates great music from down the ages, revisiting parts of his musical legacy along the way and it is a damn good listen from start to finish.  ****

Review by Jason Ritchie


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