Review: Steve Welty "Crashing Hard"

The music snob in me wants to reject Steve Welty. What Welty does is not exactly world changing; some could fairly call it derivative, if they were listening to the inner snob that believes that any music not created by Wilco is derivative.

On my third pass of Steve Welty’s record “Crashing Hard” I told my inner snob to take the day off. I gave myself over to the good time vibe that Steve Welty creates with an ease that is misleading; the relaxed sound makes you think he isn’t working hard.

Track one, the title track “Crashing Hard” is unfortunately one of the weaker tracks on the record, not a bad song but not as much fun as the track that follows it. Track two, “Maria” sets a tone of loose, good time jamming.

“Maria” has the skill and sound of a song crafted in a studio but it has the essence of a friend playing with a small band at a local bar in a room full of friends. Grab a drink at the bar and Steve will set a mood for you to go talk to that girl you've had your eye on.

“Far Away Places” keeps the vibe going. Ask that girl to dance and Steve gives you just enough tempo changes to get that girl from bad dancing close. And with near perfect timing, things slow down for the next track “Wide Eyed and Beautiful.”

Steve’s talent on “Wide Eyed and Beautiful” is creating a ballad that is sad about a loss but is not depressing about it. A sense of resigned loss that makes the song easier to enjoy, the lyrics a lesson learned and not a lingered, tortured emotional pain.

The next track “Gone Away” brings the tone up just above a ballad. Now you’re back in your seat at the bar and Steve is scoring your first conversation with that girl from the bar. The vibe is relaxed but charged with romance.

“Sold” is maybe my favorite track on “Crashing Hard.” Here Steve Welty takes us on an acoustic stroll through his philosophy on life and love. It still feels like we’re at the bar but now Steve’s playing and talking to us about love, that girl he lost and wants back.

No time for angsty heart-rending however as “Say No More” has Steve finding a new girl and the pace of the song reflects the excitement of new love and new possibilities. We’re back on the dance floor here and the good time vibe continues.

There is a unique maturity to Steve Welty’s approach lyrically and musically. Where other artists find inspiration in lingering on the loss of love, Steve Welty sings like a guy who’s had heartbreak but learned from it and won’t let it keep him down.

Steve may lack the poetry of the tortured artist but his work is romantic and optimistic and his simple acoustic guitar and good time vibe are enough to make “Crashing Hard” worth listening to over and over as a cure to the downer trips out there.

No, the music snob is likely never going to come around on Steve Welty; he’s not tortured enough. For those who can dismiss the snob, Steve Welty offers a relaxed night a bar with friends vibe that’s really easy to enjoy.

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