Steve Payne Outlines

Steve Payne is a curious fellow who is a true journeyman and despite being label-free, he issues some delightful records on his own label. Neither folkie nor bluesman, Payne is a gifted guitarist and singer-songwriter who falls somewhere between Roy Harper and Nick Drake, more British folk-rock than straight blues, although his guitar stylings lean towards the Delta on occasion. This 29-minute disc is short but definitely sweet, providing a wonderful taste of what he does best. His approach to the guitar is almost classical at times while he carefully mines each groove, blessing it with a blues presence. A bit of a painter and a poet, Payne colours his work with the rudiments of acoustic guitar, harmonica and banjo. Yet he manages to create timeless songs that get under your skin and stay there. "Northern Town” paints a haunting, Drake-like picture, albeit a less desolate one; "Everybody’s Talking About It” focuses on his adeptness at finger style guitar playing coupled with somewhat sombre vocals; and "Rita Hayworth’s Smile” is a love song that slides along like butter. Calm yet impassioned vocals marry to distinctive melodies and exemplary guitar playing across a variety of themes. He wins his fans one at a time but, at this rate, he’ll certainly never lose them. (Independent)