Short Blue Stories Steve James


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Short Blue Stories2009 Short Blue Stories is Steve James most recent solo effort. Hear original songs and instrumentals by SJ along with roots classics from Frank Hutchison, Garfield Akers and Furry Lewis. 6 and 12-string acoustic and resonator guitars and mandolin aplenty. Del Rey, guitar and vocals, joins in on selected tracks including Steve’s melancholy “Birmingham Steel” and the Lazy Lester swamp romp “The Same Thing Could Happen To You”   “Short Blue Stories entered the international Americana Radio Top 100 chart (based on reported plays from programmers) for 2009- 2010 rated as #90 disc with the #20 song; Steve’s own “Folk Radio”. Sixteen tracks in all.

2 reviews for Short Blue Stories Steve James


    John Caruso

    Short Blue Stories
    A tireless traveling musician, Steve James is certainly no secret, but neither is he as well known as he would be in a just world. If you like gritty, honest music with energy and expression, and you haven’t listened to Steve James—well, you’re missing out. Invented before the first electric guitar was plugged in, the formidable National resonator remains the acoustic instrument of choice for this type of music, and Steve James plays it the way it was meant to be played (as does his special guest, the remarkable Del Rey on a Ron Phillips guitar). This is lively fingerstyle with a thumping bass and dancing melody lines. On new arrangements of old songs like “Worried Blues” and “Dough Roller” and (my favorite) “The Same Thing Could Happen to You,” Steve James displays a virtuosic slide guitar as smooth as polished glass and as sharp as a piece of broken glass. His boisterous mandolin playing has never been snappier than on this album—Yank Rachel would be proud—and this album even offers listeners the rare treat of slide mandolin (which sounds a bit gimmicky until you actually hear it, and then it sounds great). In addition to boasting the road-earned technical prowess of an old-school songster, Steve James brings a true erudition to his playing that taps his listeners directly into the thrilling history of this music. As homage to past masters of the genre, the original songs here occasionally echo delicious little licks or snatch clever bits of lyrical phrases from classic songs while always remaining completely fresh. The cover songs here always bring a new perspective to familiar tunes, and it’s especially exhilarating to hear his slide arrangement of Furry Lewis’s “Judge Harsh Blues” when you recall that Steve James spent formative years as a guitarist under the tutelage of that storied bluesman. It’s a beautiful tribute to a past master, and like so much of his fine work, it demonstrates that this blues scholar is truly a master of the idiom in his own right. Short Blue Stories shows Steve James at the top of his form. You don’t want to miss this album.
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    Arthur Elliott

    Short Blue Stories
    Steve is one of my very favourite artists. I had the pleasure of enjoying his ‘live’ performance in Brisbane, Australia, several years ago. He just makes it all look so easy.

    Steve’s new album is wonderful, full of great musicianship and with an integrity that you won’t find elsewhere. All of the playing is immaculate, (including Del Rey’s contributions) as you would expect, and Steve’s voice conveys comedy, hard luck, resignation, or reflection, easily (sometimes several of these at once).

    What is more, although Steve has written most of the tracks, they sound as though they were written by the early bluesmen that he so admires. There are very few keeping their memory alive, let alone with the skill to sound like them but better. However, this album (and Steve’s entire body of work) shows that he is one such person. A standout CD!

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