A New Place for Steve
I think of Someplace Different, from 2003, as a breakout album for Steve.
His debut effort, Guy Down the Street, contained catchy tunes and great
lyrical moments. This second album shows an even broader range of styles and
moods. The song structures serve the story-telling more strongly, and the
production and pacing are more assured.
Producer Brian Beattie once again works magic with his “Tube-o-Sonic
Insta-Mirror” system. Solid, tasteful backing by Brian on bass and by Perry
Drake, Mark Ambrose, and Seela on drums adds just enough rhythmic thrust.
The other backing parts provide cool textures without coming between Steve
and the listener.
The title track sets the standard for the album. It’s a crowd-pleaser at
Steve’s gigs and a kind of anthem for his label, Subatomic Particles for
Peace. The song talks about people coming together after a natural disaster
with a change in attitude — they begin to love more, fear less, and stop
chasing after material goods. Post-Hurricane Katrina, the message is more
vital than ever; you just hope that it gets through to more people this
I ain’t just talking ‘bout the weather
or human tragedy
I’m trying to get someplace different
than we get on the T.V.
That place is the realm of the 100th Monkey. If you’re not familiar with
this tale, popularized by Ken Keyes, Jr., you can read it on the Internet.
The theory is that a spontaneous and mysterious leap of consciousness can
occur when a certain population reaches a "critical mass" point. Steve puts
forward the possibility of a leap to “someplace different,” a worldwide
ethic of peace and love.
This song is followed by the haunting “Gone,” one of my personal favorites.
This is Steve at his most lyrical on the subject of loving and moving on:
It was just a dosey-do
here you come, there you go
like a hitchhiker’s dream
then you’re gone…
“Toast” shifts to a more whimsical, jazzy mood as Steve stretches out
stylistically, aided by Jonathan Meiburg on banjo. Another personal favorite
is “3X Good.” This blues, with three verses perfectly constructed like a
musical haiku, can also get jazzy in live performance.
“Westernman” has been one of Steve’s most popular songs on the Austin club
scene. It’s a biting protest against the greed, consumerism, ecological
degradation, and “flimflam fluff” that typify the western world. Steve plays
alone on this one, though Brian adds some suitably ominous echo effects.
“Inconsideration” is Steve’s longest song on record, clocking in at 5-1/2
minutes. It mines a deep vein of melancholy (“Isn’t it sad/when all of our
best times are partly bad?”), yet it ends in affirmation. The style is
direct and affecting, backed by Jonathan’s churchlike organ part.
“Jesus Song,” similar to “Gone” musically, makes a personal spiritual
statement. Since this album came out, Steve has moved on to “someplace
different,” so he rarely performs it these days, but it’s still stirring,
especially with Jonathan’s banjo behind it.
Other highlights include “Love I Can’t Live Without,” Eric Leikam’s
gospel-tinged confession of addiction to love, with Craig Ross on guitar and
an angelic backing vocal by Seela; “Didn’t You,” a bittersweet ballad with a
“live” feel; and “Brown Bag from Florida,” another of Steve’s rarities, with
the great line about “a dancing enigma marching in time.”
A bonus track on the newly mastered CD, released in early 2006, is an
alternate take of “Little Girl,” talking about her dolls, her toys, and her
little boys. The original, spookier version moves to the end of the program.
Enjoy the place where Steve takes you on this album. The really nice thing
is, this won’t be the last time he takes you somewhere new.