Steve Morse Band - Out Standing in Their Field

No comments

I've been a fan of guitarist Steve Morse since his latter days with the Dixie Dregs, that late only because that's when I was introduced to them.  My friend who loaned me What If was bewildered when I returned it with only a moderate reaction.  It took me a while to appreciate it, as the genre of the music was something akin to rocking southern fried classical jazz fusion.  Elements vary from song to son and within songs themselves.  As an instrumental only group, there was ample room for diversity, especially given the solo space given to guitars, keyboards and fiddle.

The Steve Morse Band generally takes the same approach, but the band is stripped down to guitars, bass and drums.  Their latest release, Out Standing in Their Field, is full of puns on titles (suchSteve Morse Band as a picture of them standing in a field), but musically, it's no joking matter.

The CD begins with "Name Dropping," which sets a muscular tone that could drive nails.  "Brink of the Edge" backs off slightly, observing certain tones that Morse has used throughout his career.  But, it's still a platform for his seemingly impossibly fast playing, and, of course, his guitar soars.

"Here and Now and Then" is yet another shade less aggressive, and it captures some beautiful moments by Morse and bassist Dave LaRue.  The title here is another play on words, as is "John Deere Letter."  The latter covers what seems to be part of Morse's recipe for any CD, that being a country hop stomper that proves that super fast guitar work can fit any genre.

Another obligatory insertion is "Baroque 'n Dreams," a classical guitar piece accompanied by electric bass.  Morse is adept at the style, and it's an amazing song, with both instruments going in different directions but fitting together beautifully.

"Flight of the Osprey" is the only song that, to my ears, suggests it might actually suit a vocal.  Add a Mellotron and a prog-rock lyric and it could go places.  Still, it's a very enjoyable tune.

To be fair, this music isn't for everyone.  When there are no vocals, the song structures are open to whatever suits the artist.  None of them have pop "hooks," and several seem fitted together only to allow a base for the solos, which is justification enough.  In other words, you probably won't be humming any of these while working at your desk.

There are two take-aways from this CD.  One is that any aspiring bassist should listen to Dave LaRue only to be exposed to a world of what is possible with the instrument.  The second is that while some may follow the chromatic scales or syncopated approaches as an intellectual pursuit, the natural response for me after each listen is to just say "Wow."

Suggested Songs: "Name Dropping," "Brink of the Edge," "Here and Now and Then," "Baroque 'n Dream"

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Clips are available at Amazon, and Morse's MySpace has sound samples of several songs, though none from this release.

No comments :

Post a Comment