Thursday, February 27, 2014

Steve Howell's Yes, I Believe I Will

A Living Blues review described the music of Texas acoustic singer and guitarist Steve Howell as “a gentle, Deep South-inspired acoustic troubadour daydream that is sure to appeal to a diverse set of country, blues and roots music fans.” It is an apt description of his new release Yes, I Believe I Will on Out of the Past Music. Howell brings his low-key and genial vocals to a variety of folk, blues and country material backed by the deft support of his band, The Mighty Men, comprised of Chris Michaels (electric and acoustic guitars, bass), Dave Hoffpauir (drums) and Jason Weinheimer (keyboards).

While inspired by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, Howell’s music is perhaps even more in the vein of such sixties folk troubadours as Patrick Sky, Eric Anderson and Tom Rush. Listening to him sing about meeting his gal on Sugar Hill on the opening blues I Had the Notion, he will never be mistaken for John Lee Hooker. The restrained approach gives a certain appeal to his interpretation of Willie Brown’s Future Blues if lurking the urgency of the classic Paramount 78. His country roots are evident on a fine reading of Mel Tillis’ Walk on Boy (a reminder of what a great songwriter this country legend was) and Doc Boggs Country Blues (AKA Hustling Gambler), a wonderful moody rendition of an old time ballad. Also nice is Wasted Minds, a contemporary country ballad, and a folkie rendition of The Fleetwood’s Mr. Blue.

Listening to this brings memories when I was in graduate school at the University of Buffalo when the folk club brought in the likes of Steve Goodman, Utah Phillips, Rosalie Sorrels and John Prime and while Howell may not reach of the heights of Goodman singing City of New Orleans and Penny Evans, but Yes, I Believe I Will is a delightful, congenial mix of folk, country and blues that will appeal to a wide range of roots music listeners.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is Steve performing solo.

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