Steve Mayone – Sideways Rain
Self-released – 2017
The chamber-pop strings into Letting You Go sets the style for what follows on the fifth solo album from the now Brooklyn-based Steve Mayone. Likened equally to The Travelling Wilburys, George Harrison, the Band and Jerry Garcia, Sideways Rain is a 13-track collection of American folk-tinted pop.
Recorded following the death of both his brother and mother, to whom the album’s dedicated, Sideways Rain is surprisingly musically upbeat, though the lyrics clearly address themes of death, loss and being lost, notably so with that opener, the country rolling Rescue Me, and the despairing no hope left horns-washed closer Save You (“You say there’s no more stories to tell and your life has been a living hell. And it’d be easier for everyone if you went away”).
Rather inevitably, many of the songs concern mortality and making the most of the moment. The soulful, organ-accompanied suicide alluding Strange Bird (its Dylan echoes reinforced by a line about heaven’s door) sings of being ”too weird to live, too rare to die, too big to run, too small to survive” while the Harrison-Holly-ish So Many People Get It Wrong is about trying to be a good father. On the Dylanesque growl of the driving What Good with Clare Burson’s soaring fiddle he asks “what good is love if you don’t share it?” while the reflective acoustic fingerpicked Time Moves On pretty much speaks for itself, its line about finding it hard to get a job (“nobody’s hiring an honest man. The jobs have been shipped to foreign lands”) echoed in the subsequent New Year’s Resolution (“nobody’s hiring a desperate man who was fired from his last vocation”).
Elsewhere, The Long Way Home lopes along on a classic blues boogie groove with honking baritone and slide guitar, the pedal-steel flavoured Band-like title track was inspired by being caught in a hurricane, the bluesy sax and trumpet plastered Pretty Mama is pure Blonde on Blonde Dylan and Early Morning Train, written from the perspective of the doomed driver in a train-wreck, is an obvious titular and musical nod to Gordon Lightfoot’s Early Morning Rain. All in all, quite an impressive downpour.