Top positive review
20 people found this helpful
Steve Morse Band Deliver Sonic Bliss With OSITF!!!
on November 30, 2009
There's probably not a lot to say about Steve Morse that hasn't already been said. He is one of the preeminent guitar talents to emerge in the last thirty years or so, well-versed and displaying incredible virtuosity in so many different styles--rock, jazz, fusion, classical, country, folk, and even bluegrass--while never, ever losing his own unique signature sound. Simply put, the man is a technical genius, a monumental talent, and in my opinion has no peers except maybe Steve Howe, and the late Django Reinhardt and Chet Atkins. Yet Morse is a quiet, gracious, and humble man who prefers to let his guitar do the talking for him when it comes time to "put up or shut up." And that's exactly what he does on the new Steve Morse band album, Out Standing In Their Field.
And talk it does! A purely instrumental album, Out Standing... offers eleven tracks of jaw-dropping musical interplay between bassist Dave LaRue, and drummer Van Romaine. The band provides us with tight compositions that communicate emotiveness, passion, and a quirky sense of humor and evokes a wonderful variety of emotions in the listener. The complexity and brilliance of these compositions never fails to amaze throughout the entire experience, especially the intricate dialogue between the bass and guitar. But don't think that this album is only accessible to musicians--musicians will find much to marvel over, however, the tracks offer plenty of great riffs, hooks, and diversity to speak to and captivate even the most casual listener.
Out Standing In Their Field opens with a rocker. "Name Dropping" kicks in with a monster riff that's like a sledgehammer to the head! With drumming that is clockwork-precise, the riff offers irresistible head banging opportunities that bookend mercurial solos from both Morse and LaRue, and eventually offer solid groundwork for Morse to play melody over. The second song, "Brink of the Edge," follows like a fat rhino charging through, but offers wonderful light and shade contrasts, allowing for gorgeous melody lines to soar in between and over the riffs while Dave LaRue brings some nice, funky bass to the fore. And while we're speaking of massive riffs, "Relentless Encroachment" cannot go unmentioned. Relentless indeed, its heavy, chunky riffing and searing hot solos will satisfy and satiate the largest of rock appetites, yet is counterpointed by the beautiful and languid melodies of tracks like "Unnamed Sources."
And while Steve's heavy rock and roll stylings weave their way throughout the entire album, he never lets you forget there are two sides to the coin. "John Deere Letter" highlights not only Steve's quirky sense of humor, but also his versatility with the country genre, his near god-like finger picking, his signature volume-knob play that sounds not unlike a pedal steel guitar, and some smokin' hot bass work that often plays more like a lead guitar. Once again, the interplay between the bass and guitar is both perfection and insanity all at once! "More To the Point" is another tune that shows Steve laying down solid riff work and allowing for Dave's fine basswork and incredible drumming by Van. Comfortable in his skin, Steve is confident enough to let others shine. But don't think he's a slouch or that he lets down the side in any way! His solos throughout range from stunning and furious fingerwork to emotive tonal poetry and never fail to surprise.
Elsewhere, Steve displays his prowess with classical guitar with beautiful results. "Baroque `N Dreams" is a joy and delight to experience. Understated and elegant, it does indeed use stylings and progressions that speak to the Baroque Era style of classical music while developing a more modern feel as it moves along. However, Steve's unique sonic imprint is all over this track, looking to the Baroque for inspiration but never losing the mark of Steve's special touch of genius. "Flight of the Osprey" is another track that showcases Steve's classical guitar work with a gentle, lilting classical acoustic intro, but delivering a surprise attack as the electric guitar and drums rise above the horizon and come zooming in, strafing the sonic landscape with its machine-gun riffing, dropping low-end bass like bunker buster bombs, and firing off soaring guitar melodies and solos. The song, inspired by Steve's love of aircraft, is one of the shorter compositions on this album, packing so much in that it nearly stuns the senses--be sure to take note of the acoustic guitar as it joins in the attack, unleashing a furious flurry of notes to compliment the electric melody it accompanies.
And I would be remiss if I failed to mention a very special track on this album. Is it the live version of "Rising Power" that showcases the band's tight chemistry and amazing interplay as they jam live on this favorite? Well, no, it's not exactly the one I had in mind. On the song "Time Junction" Steve is joined by a very special guest who adds his own guitar magic to this particular track. Kevin Morse, Steve's son, joins his father in this stunning display of dexterity and precision. This is the junction where the old guard meets the new generation of guitar prodigy. The song displays amazing fingerwork, dueling solos, harmonizing, great riffing, and evokes a variety of emotions across the spectrum; playful, gentle and soothing, and most of all, STRONG! It's a wonderful thing to hear and marks Kevin Morse as a prodigy and future guitar legend in his own right.
Out Standing In Their Field is a tremendous piece of work by a group of world-class musicians. It highlights the band's sense of humor with many clever turns of phrase and quirky plays on titles. And the band photo? It features Steve, Dave, and Van out standing in a field! You've gotta love it! But most importantly, it showcases the Steve Morse Band's virtuosity with many different styles, displays a class of musicianship rarely seen today, and features one of the world's greatest, most talented guitarists at his best. And while this disc is a must-have for any aspiring musician, it offers so much to rock fans and casual listeners alike--providing some familiar and irresistible head-banging landscapes, but also painting them with sounds that will open fans' ears to so many other possibilities. Out Standing In Their Field is impossible to neatly label and file away in some clichéd, predefined niche. It is a fiercely individualistic square peg that defies anyone to try and squash it into a round hole. You simply must hear it to believe it. In wanting to describe this album, "incredible" is the only word that comes to mind, and somehow that's not enough. Not by a long shot.
Brent A. Soileau
The Deep Purple Hub
October 30th, 2009