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Steve Mayone Steve Mayone
Album: Sideways Rain
Label: Janglewood Records
Tracks: 13

Steve Mayone's fifth studio album had its genesis on Interstate 35 during a hurricane so bad, he had to take refuge under a bridge. Something may have told him he was in trouble, but fortunately he came out unscathed enough to birth this album. Unfortunately in the time since, there were further storms to endure, as he lost his mother to long term illness and his brother took his own life. Pouring his pain into Sideways Rain helped Mayone heal, and dragged him back out of the darkness into the light.

That pain is clear to see throughout the album. Letting You Go, Save You, and Rescue Me are all clearly influenced by those turbulent times. However if you are expecting a maudlin experience, you are in for a big surprise. This is a strangely uplifting album full of soaring melodies and bittersweet poetry. There is also an incredible depth to it, with its understated themes coming across more on subsequent plays.

This is one of those albums they used to do so well in the seventies, and the influences seem to be mainly from that era. George Harrison looks to be a clear touching point, though there is also a fair amount of Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Jerry Garcia, and The Band. Many have tried to recapture that kind of sound, though few have managed it as well as Steve Mayone does. The title track is a pure joy to listen to, and I defy anyone not to be singing along to it by the second play at most. Pretty Mama is a glorious bluesy Seventies throwback with its impressive horn work, and The Long Way Home is a whole lot of fun.

Arguably the strongest track is Strange Bird, with its gentle organ, and its heart-breaking lyrics - "too weird to live, too rare to die, too big to run, too small to survive". Death may lurk at every line, but this is outstanding song writing.

Sideways Rain may have been birthed in a storm, but it's the album equivalent of the clear skies and calming relief that tend to follow them. This is a wonderful album.

Adam Jenkins