Steve Yanek

REVIEW: Steve Yanek “September”


Steve Yanek – September

The CD gets starts with perfectly layered instruments (by one musician). Done quite seamlessly. Yanek admired some one-man bands & this was his motivation. He succeeded in emulating them with his own bright songbook of light-hearted melodies. Many musicians were impressed with Paul McCartney’s first solo LP McCartney & especially “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which had Beatle qualities. But not every song was as innovative. McCartney often see-sawed between genius & mediocrity.

Steve Yanek

But that didn’t deter the likes of Emitt Rhodes. This self-produced 10-cut September (Drops Aug 25–Primitive Records) was dedicated to the “one man Beatle” (actually the “one man Paul McCartney” especially when Paul released his first solo LP). The late singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Emitt Rhodes was inspired by Paul & in turn, he inspired Steve.

The tale of Rhodes was a fairy tale. He sincerely surprised many rock fans & radio DJs when his first 2 solo LPs proved another vocalist could do what Paul did. Emitt in his early years was a one-man band who had strong McCartney-like melodies & clever lyrics on his Dunhill albums.

With songs like “I Could Use a Little Rain,” Yanek conjures the Emitt magic. There were other musicians who followed with equally engaging work: Harry Nilsson & Gerry Rafferty, to name a few. “Summer Days,” is definitely in the tradition of both McCartney & Rhodes.

The art of the song in this manner is somewhat faded today. To hear the Ohio-raised Steve exude this type of work is a significant thing. It’s hooky, hummable, clever & with slight twists in arrangement could easily be covered by both pop artists & blues or jazz singers. Don’t forget what the Paul Butterfield Blues Band did with Michael Nesmith’s “Mary-Mary.” Or Taj Mahal with the Monkees’ “Take a Giant Step,” or Cassandra Wilson to “Last Train To Clarksville.” It’s mesmerizing, if not amazing. Pop songs turned into classics in an entirely different genre.

Meanwhile, Steve Yanek fills a CD with one tailored tune after another. The man is prolific & it’s a shame that Emitt never had a chance to meet him. It’s not easy to write a song with grace & power. It’s almost a contradiction but that’s what makes these tunes attractive.


Yanek manages a lilting piano line perfectly. “Losing You, “ is exceptional & “Count Every Moment,” is a McCartney exponent. In melodies like these even if you’re not familiar they have a familiarity that carries you along comfortably. Steve is an original who’s just someone carrying on a tradition respectful of someone who wasn’t capable of sustaining it.

Highlights – “I Could Use a Little Rain,” “Summer Days,” “Carousel,” “Count Every Moment” & “Losing You,”

Musicians – All instruments & vocals by Steve Yanek.

Color image courtesy of Hemifran. The 37-minute CD @ &


Leave a Reply!