New Album Reviews: All the best

Steve Black
Neo Music NEO0111CD

Original British country music at its finest
Devon-based Steve Black is one of the UK’s finest country-roots songwriters as this latest
album demonstrates time and time again. The man writes good poetic lyrics, with love, his main
inspiration, but also he draws upon his many travels around the world and from a life lived to
the full. He’s not the world’s greatest singer, as he’d be quick to confirm, but there’s an inherent
honesty in his vocal delivery and an emotional connection to the songs that only the writer can
possess, especially when that writer is creating from his own life experiences. So called country
experts, pundits and journalists tell us time and time again that the UK lacks genuine country music
talent. In fact one well-established country music magazine more-or-less refuses to feature home-
grown country music talent within their hallowed pages. Well, the likes of original and highly
talented artists such as Steve Black, Michael Weston King, Alan West, the Good Intentions, etc
should not be ignored as a matter of course, but embraced to raise the profile of a scene that’s been
unfairly treated for much too long.

ALL THE BEST is a charismatic acoustic collection of beautiful, easy listening songs which
reflects Black’s life experiences and the inspiring personality they bring to him. The opening Come
On Home is the kind of concise story song that Guy Clark would’ve been proud to have appended
his name to with a great twist in the tail. Down But Not Out has an infectious rhythm, a great chorus
and funky arrangement that will have you singing long after the track has faded. Blackie loves
constructing story songs, a kind of lost art in today’s mainstream country music. This comes to the
fore with Lately, a gentle, reflective ballad with vivid imagery and Children Of The Rodeo, a folksy
country song with echoes of the late, great John Stewart. You Think You’re Lonely is a powerful
message song that neatly puts all the modern problems into some kind of perspective.
Producer Alan West keeps the background simple and effective, allowing the songs to build
into powerful units that merge into a strong album. The talented Thomm Jutz provides guitars,
keyboards, mandolin and harmony vocals, assisted by Lynn Williams (drums), Mark Fain (bass)
and Justin Moses (fiddle). The result is a thoughtful, insightful and most enjoyable listening
experience. One you must seek out for yourself.

Alan Cackett, Editor, Maverick Magazine, March/April 2012

All the best
NEO Music 

For many of you Steve Black will be an unknown quantity. I hope and trust that this will change over the coming months as Steve is one hell of a songwriter. He was recently awarded the accolade of The Best Original Song from the British Country Music Awards for ‘You’re On Your Own’ a song to be found on stable mate Alan West’s album “The Way It Is”. However to return to this new collection of tunes from Steve, a follow up to 2006’s “All I Saw”, we have eleven new cuts. Utilising current technology it has been possible to produce the album in Devon but with most of the recordings completed in Nashville with top sessioners. The results have all the smooth gloss expected from Nashville projects however at no time does Steve himself sound American. So you have the almost unique situation where the album has a feel of both countries and it all works beautifully. The album opens with the rolling rhythms of ‘Come On Home’ a rather sad tale of wrong choices made in a young woman’s life as told from a father’s point of view. ‘Down But Not Out’ might have come straight out of Tony J White’s cannon but nobody else could have written ‘Lately’, a deeply personal take on time spent in the Arctic. The top tunes keep coming including ‘Chicago’, ‘I Think I Love You Tonight’ and ‘Miss You So’. ‘Killing Fields’ closes out the album and as the title suggests it is really an anti-war song which evokes all the associated horrors of conflict. Smartly political, yet not overly so, it packs a though provoking punch. This is a classy release showing we can match America’s talent right here in U.K.

Graeme Scott, Blues Matters, Jan 2012