Being such a music connoisseur, I often take chances on singers/bands that Ive never heard of before or sometimes I like what a label or producer has put out in the past and decide thats enough to buy the CD. That exact scenario played out when I purchased Steven Delopoulos (Del-op-u-las) debut solo record. The producer (Monroe Jones) and label (Eb Flo/Universal South) happened persuade me to buy this CD as did its 9.99 purchase price.
Who is this Steven guy?
27 year old Steven Delopoulos is the founder of the 90s alt-Christian band Burlap To Cashmere and they were around on A&M records for two albums and amassed a loyal fan base in the NY/NJ area. The son of Greek immigrant father and a music teaching mother, Steven quickly learned the power that music has over people. A New Jersey native, Steven learned guitar and while he loved some bands, like his friends, Steven really loved singer/songwriters like Harry Chapin. Along the way to Burlap To Cashmere, Steven majored in Theatre at a NYC college and says that he thinks the best story songs can be imagined as little theatrical plays of the minds.
In the grand tradition of songwriters like Chapin, Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Springsteen and Bono (U2) along with the little-known Mike Younger, Steven Delopoulos is as different as Norah Jones has been to popular music. Steven has resurrected what seemed to be a lost art-form lately and an art form that needs to be heard in a time in which pop star excess, beauty and Pro Tools seem to be the order of music. Stevens debut record, Me Died Blue is organic music for the masses, a type of music that hasnt been presented in this type of form with African rhythms, rock, jazz, folk and country all rolled up into beautiful pop (not Britney pop) hooks. The record that I can most compare to Me Died Blue is Simons masterpiece Graceland. Monroe Jones production accents the songs Steve writes and is elegant without being overwrought.
Another Day opens up the album and with a stunningly simple acoustic guitar riff wrapped around songs. From first notes, this is not your average debut record or a song to start a record off with. Steven says the song was influenced by Springsteen in the beginning and ended up as a folk song about a guy who learns that only his own life can be changed by him and he should stop trying to change others.
Jungle Trail opens up with a brilliant yet familiar melody and breaks into a lyric about yearning for something better and realizing, once again that change begins inside ones self. I Was tossed along that jungle trail/There was nothing there, just thorns and nails/ Had no skin, no fur to wear/ But I straggled through the storm/In a search to find my home/ Now I climbed the mountain and I pleaded with the sky /There was no one around, just some dark clouds in reply/ But I offered some berries and a tear in my eye/ Cause I was on my own/ so far away from home
Me Died Blue reminds me of both Cat Stevens and Paul Simon. Its a song about redemption and incorporates world music melodies with a simple acoustic guitar fronting the band. The lyrics talk about death in a different way one that makes death sound like death has never sounded before.
Here I Go Again is an elegant ballad with a beautiful timeless melody to it that begs to be heard. This song is about falling into a shadowy area after breaking up and getting out only to fall back into the cauldron of the shadow once again.
Daisies and Sandalwood is a song that originally began as a September 11, 2001 song and the lyrics certainly suggest that but it also happens to be the best song on the record and the lyrics really let the mind wander into a multitude of directions. To understand the song is to hear it or in this case read it. Here's a snippet of the lyrics:
These days are infectious with fluorescent cars
And billionaires hung on the streets for the stars
And satellite projection beaming branches for the vine
In this cyber-world of dreaming, hoaxing water into wine
So, sing loud for the canyons
And soft for the parasites
And squeeze your spouses and children goodnight
And map out your futures and freeze-dry your food
And look for your reflection on a dime
Sure, Holy Sunlight has a Christian undertone to it but it is about how were all connected like the ocean sea, were all flowing, like the river to our destiny. The lyrics really have a Taupin/John feel to them.
Rocky Boat is a song about falling off of ones path, being told by others about it and deciding to go back on the trail of life at his own paces saying that hes free to live his own life. Its funky, jazzy and very good. This song is where Monroe Jones production really stands out.
Runaway Train reminds me of an old Billy Joel songs. Its about whiskey and a woman. Not rocket science, just the all-out rocker that every CD needs and probably the best chance for radio airplay. Back in the 1970s this one wouldve been a huge hit, here its the 11th of 12 tracks.
Steven Delopoulos is one of the rare artists that hardly ever come along. He sings and writes with a passion and grace that most artists only wish they could sound like. Steven writes and sings about stuff that isnt normally sung and most of them deal with what Track 12 (People Come And Go) does: the paradox of life.
12 West Front Street
Me Died Blue
Here I Go Again
Daisies and Sandalwood
People Come And Go
All songs are written by Steven Delopoulos. Produced by Monroe Jones
Released May 20, 2003 by Eb Flo/Universal South Records.
©2003 Matthew Bjorke.