Review: Steve Howell And The Mighty Men – Yes, I Believe I Will

Posted on: Monday, Jan 6, 2014

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Steve Howell And The Mighty Men – Yes, I Believe I Will

(Out Of The Past Music LLC)

This is Steve’s fourth album and the music contained herein is a representation of and homage to, the music he first became aware of as a thirteen year old in his home in Kilgore, Texas back in 1965 when he first heard the intriguing, gentle acoustic finger picking playing of  Mississippi John Hurt. As time passed Steve was exposed to more and more magical music from the likes of Blind Willie McTell, Leadbelly, Robert Johnson and Son House to name but a few.

In the mid seventies Steve was serving in the U.S. Navy and during this time he was stationed in Haverfordwest in South Wales; He spent as much time as he possibly could of the three and a half years that he was there, playing as part of a folk duo with slide guitarist and mandolin player Arnie Cottrell in local clubs in and around much of the south of England.

Now, with Steve firmly ensconced in Marshall, Texas and his music equally rooted in the early rural acoustic blues and Jazz traditions, he continues to pursue his passions with the patience and appreciation of a master craftsman. His invitingly mellow almost fading vocals are a delightful mixture of Burl Ives and Eric Clapton, if this is not enough; the undeniable quality of his endearing charm and wistfulness emphatically draws you in further.

The whole album has an atmosphere of serene placidness, the picking of Steve seeps immeasurably into your soul and the highly charged melancholic playing of; Chris Michaels; electric guitars and bass, Dave Hoffpauir; drums and Jason Weinheimer; keyboards, quietly engulfs you in a calming cocoon. Any barbed comments or observations glide effortlessly over your head unless of course, you care to pay attention to the lyrics of numbers such as; “Wasted Mind”, where Steve bemoans the lackadaisical youth of today who, for all the wrong reasons are on first name turns with the local police force and appear to have more time for exotic substances and Eminem than their estranged girlfriends and babies.

All this is done with a dexterous fingerpickin’ aplomb. The Fleetwood’s “Mr. Blue”, is an illusory escape into tranquillity with its sad and woeful tale of adulterous enjoyment, delivered in the most dignified of ways.  Another highlight is the 1928 bible inspired Blind Willie Johnson “Keep Your Lamps Burning”, the pins and needle electric guitar segueing with the spine tingling Dobro takes your mind right the way back into the darkness of the slave-trading days of the past.

Equally, “Country Blues”, Moran Lee ‘Dock’ Boggs’ 1927 darkly prophetic gamblers tale is absolutely riveting. Once again, the superbly addictive melancholic theme is continued with “Devil’s Side”. The rolling picking of “I Know You Rider” temporarily lifts the mood of the album somewhat; the album closes with the Jaunty if not Joyous “Rake and Rambling Blade”. A 19th century tale concerning, highwaymen, robbery and dastardly deeds.

Highly recommended!

BRIAN HARMAN

www.stevehowell.ws/home

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