Steve Welner – Back To You
Steve Welner’s Back To You (Drops July 16–14Feet Records) — an 11-song CD produced by the redoubtable Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (electric & acoustic guitars/vocals) features tunes filled predominately with upbeat little vignettes & hat tips to vintage rock n’ roll recipes. The production is consistently crisp & jukebox friendly. Among musicians cited Steve (acoustic guitar/harmonica), is joined by Keith Christopher (bass), Rob Arthur (keyboard 2 cuts), Paul Errico (keyboard on 2), & Russ Seeger (fiddle & mandolin on “Another Joint – Down the Road”).
What captures one’s attention quickly is how the swampy guitar & melodies at the onset creep along distinctly like the best of The Blasters, Del-Lords, Los Lobos & that band that played in “From Dusk till Dawn,” Tito & Tarantula.
Steve Welner has the necessary voice with the formula highly polished & recorded in Brooklyn, NY. Some songs will grip while others will take time. That’s to be expected. But the set is solid & the atmosphere is filled with electricity you can’t see.
My only suggestion is that Welner get dirtier, grittier – some lyrical subjects could be darker. Tom Waits once said: “I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.” Exactly.
A song like “Too Much,” has 6-strings animated & drenched in 60s guitar presence. It succeeds nicely. “Riding the Wave,” cruises & captures a cool breeze in a good head of hair. It doesn’t conjure surfing for me but riding the main drag in a ragtop down lit up on a Saturday night when the strip was loaded with tanned curvy girls & buffed guys. Shawn Murray lays down tight fills on drums. This is refreshing because Welner doesn’t push it. It skates along liberally in a Beach Boys groove with Ramones testosterone.
“Gun Show,” is excellent. Bits n’ pieces of 60s guitar wizardry that attacks the tune like sugar on a juvenile’s teeth. Welner needs to get more animated with his lyrics vocally. The song begs for more inflection on certain keywords. In the late 60s, the description was to “get into it.”
“Torn By Trouble” & “Unprotected,” are more serious. Welner shines because this sounds like his comfort zone. He doesn’t have Elvis power or Springsteen growl. He’ll survive. He does perform incisively, sensibly & with all the nostalgic flavor of R&R without frosting. He’s not Dion DiMucci (who’s more blues-oriented now) but Welner is far more exciting than Kenny Vance. He maintains that Del-Lords tradition but hopefully he’ll find his “Dream Come True.” Maybe not as nuclear-powered.
He has a nostalgic voice cleverly associated between swampy tunes & main drag Saturday night gas-guzzling revved-up engine songs.
The 40-minute CD is available @ https://stevewelner.com/track/2530349/back-to-you