Steven Lee Lawson

Steven Lee Lawson

Snappy Little Numbers Records, 2021

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


A veteran musician and longtime player in Oblio Duo and its related projects (Oblio's Arrow), Steven Lee Lawson’s very eclectic solo debut is full of heartfelt and honest songwriting from an artist who has plenty of stories to tell, even if some of them are rooted in hard living. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Lawson starts the listen with the kind of jangly and definitely warm spirit of “Economics,” where quick acoustic guitar, crisp drumming, and bowed strings make a strong impression.

Things get even more interesting from there with the crunchy, lo-fi indie-rocker “Corpse Rising,” as well as the piano-friendly and cautious folk of “Misaligned,” which wouldn't be out of place on a Saddle Creek Records compilation. “I Ain't Enough,” one of the album's best, then moves swiftly with raw electric guitar and crashing drums amid buzzing melodies and no shortage of grit.

The back half of the listen is equally superb, and includes the soft and atmospheric “The Foresaken,” where a hypnotic, even mysterious quality enters the darker textures. “Melodies” then takes a similar route, which benefits from mesmerizing keys and Lawson's soulful singing and soothing humming, while “Black Moon” alternates between calm yet tense moments and giant swells of soaring punk meets garage rock.

The final two tracks, “Never Wanna Takin You Home” and “Sapphires,” exit the album perfectly. The former is a gentle Americana strummer that even welcomes banjo into its rural leanings, and the latter is a bare and pretty display of poetic, intimate songcraft.

A very diverse listen that balances energetic and firm moments with vulnerable bouts of eloquent storytelling, Lawson has penned a record that the mature punk/alt-rock crowd will appreciate just as much as the folk/Americana inclined. It comes with much sincerity and a tremendous amount of skill, too.

Rating: A

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