SOMEWHERE BETWEEN - STEVE PLEDGER
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Release date: 7th November, 2016
Genre: Acoustic & Roots singer-songwriter
Location: Somerset, UK
Record Label: Noisy Dog Records
It is always a wonderful thing to discover the music of a very good singer-songwriter and then to see them mature in their art and create something very special. Somerset based Steve Pledger is a great example of someone who has music that is both worth listening to....and reflecting on its themes. After releasing his critically acclaimed last album the wonderful 'Striking Matches In The WInd' and working with the award winning Ange Hardy, Steve has followed up with his next independent release and third album 'Somewhere Between'. It's an album of real heart, reflection, emotionally changed songs and social conscience. It will make you think and it will you feel.
The new album is multi-layered with more polished production and complex rich arrangements. Steve has also invited some very talented guest musicians including Lukas Drinkwater (Double & Electric Bass), Tanya Allen (Fiddle), Olly Winters-Owen (Drums, Percussion and Accordion Keys) and Nigel Neal (Piano and Organ). These have all added to the richness and magic of the previous 'Striking Matches In The Wind'.
Born in Cambridge Steve grew up in the nearby market town of St Neots. From a very early age, one constant in his life has been music; a love for it, a need to express himself through it and in more recent years the opportunity to share his own songs with a growing, wider audience. His musical influences are many, varied and not always obvious. They include in no particular order Graham Parker, Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam, Rush, Sam Cooke, Martyn Joseph, Van Morrison, Ryan Adams, Don McLean, Elvis (both of them) and Bruce Springsteen. Add to this a liking for most musical styles (when executed well) and it would be fair to say that he has a wide spectrum of influences informing his own distinct style and approach. There are hints in the album of artists like Billy Bragg, Steve Knightley, Bruce Springsteen and Martyn Joseph, both in composition and delivery.
As well as performing his own highly regarded solo shows, Steve has also had many opportunities of late to work with and open for artists such as Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin, Martyn Joseph, Luke Jackson, Willy Porter and others, and particularly with award-winning, rising Folk star, Ange Hardy. Steve took part in the hugely successful launch concert for Ange’s 2014 release ‘The Lament of the Black Sheep’ in September 2014 and their collaboration continued in October and November when they took to the road on their joint ‘Just Passing Through’ tour of the South West of England. The response to the shows was extraordinary and the artistic relationship continued with Steve appearing on Ange's following two albums and a vocal appearance by Ange on ‘Striking Matches…’ on Steve’s song ‘There We Are’.
On the 4th November 2016 Steve launched 'Somewhere Between' at a very special sold-out event in the stunning Main Hall at Dunster Castle in Somerset. Along with much airplay, the album has received a remarkable response with many reviewers and listeners alike calling it Steve's finest work to date. Neil King of FATEA Magazine called it "Steve's tour-de-force. An album that casts Steve as a protest singer, up there with the likes of Billy Bragg, Phil Ochs and Ewan MacColl." and fRoots Magazine called it "An object lesson in the craft of contemporary songwriting.".
The album was recorded at Beehive Studio, Somerset in the summer of 2016 and recorded and mixed by Olly and Steve.
"These are the songs that came along over the last year or so, during which time, they became dear to me....I hope they may to you also....Thank You!" Steve Pledger (August 2016)
The album begins with the sage and reflective 'To Change The World'. "But you can't change the world with a song. No it's people that change the world. Songs just come along and now and then might play their part. Not to change the world.......but maybe change a heart" 'Live And Learn' continues the album themes about the power of self reflection, learning from your mistakes, growing as person and making positive changes. Lovely string arrangements in this one as well. It would be very interesting to know Steve inspiration for 'Where'd You Get That Heart From'. It's very powerful with its mournful double bass under soft picked acoustic guitar. "I watch you working to deceive with each web of truth and lies you weave. You make it all so easy to believe." The pace picks up for 'The Right To Be Wrong' another very thought provoking song about free speech, having different perspectives on life, respecting another person's viewpoint and having common goals "Love, respect and what is needed to survive". Steve is very good at writing songs with a strong social conscience and this is showcased in 'Doing Well'. The song has as it's core the current changes to welfare and the government assessment of people on disability allowance, some of which have died shortly after they were 'assessed fit to work' by the scheme. Style wise it really reminds me of Megson.
The folk-rock 'I Spat Fire' is another song for change and almost resurrection like Lazarus. "I sang songs of bitterness and blame. She read words of grace, though we shared a common aim. To beseech that better part, that dwells in every heart. To shine out a light and put the dark to shame." A song about empathy 'Other' skillfully uses the deep tones of Lukas' double bass to add melancholy and heartache. "When I just want to feel what you feel. A little comfort in my skin. To be on the outside what I am within.........I've spent too much of a damn giving a damn about what people think".
Of all the many protest songs now about the current political climate (Brexit, Trump etc) 'Lefty, Wait Your Turn' captures everything in a nutshell. "Democracy" has spoken loud and clear.....just move along now 'cause there is nothing to see.......you don't get much change for the bottom of the ballot box." All the protest over the years Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jarrow Marchers, The Suffragettes, The Tolpuddle Martyrs seem to count for nothing. "We will not wait our turn, 'cause we have come to learn that the more we push the harder the boat rocks". Social activism is greatly needed in 2017.
About self reflective and finding your own special space is 'Me And The Silence'. Beautiful soft picked acoustic guitar over dark bowed double bass. A personal account of the dangers, hardships and sacrifices of being a miner and the death of the coal industry are starkly conveyed in the thought-provoking 'The Louisa Miner'. The power of creation and the futility and folly of empire building is discussed in 'Creation Is Laughing'. "Who build your empires that way that you do....'cause they will all turn to dust.....they always do."
The album closes perfectly with 'At The Last', full of metaphors about life's journey, our hopes and dreams......until 'this vessel worn with yield and see me run aground' .