Delicate Steve: Positive Force (Luaka Bop/Southbound)

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Delicate Steve: Wally Wilder
Delicate Steve: Positive Force (Luaka Bop/Southbound)

Appropriately on the usually left-field/world music label Luaka Bop, comes the indie/outsider New Jersey-based multi-instrumentalist Steve Marion who was hailed in the New York Times' review pages with his debut.

Marion writes and records everything himself on this instrumental album (aside from guests on wordless vocals) and manages to meld George Harrison's sentimental slide playing style, a lo-fi Santana in fiddly-twiddle mode and romantic downbeat balladry alongside some eerie Indo-ambient electronic whoopery of no fixed genre and chunky MOR stadium rock as rendered by an indie artist (think a $12 Toto on Afria Talks To You)

Yep, it's an odd concoction and at its best (the vaguely Chinese-cum-Hawaiian sounding title track, the delightfully weightless Luna which closes proceedings) it possesses an uplifting, exotic pop quality.

The opener Ramona Reborn however with lo-fi piano and repetitive fingers-on-blackboard slide guitar isn't the most enticing intro (it makes sense after getting what he's up) and often the impression is of instrumental music in search of a vocalist as the melodies invite lyrics (the Harrison/Beach Boys-like Love).

That said, this is peculiarly engaging stuff because you aren't quite sure where it has come from or is going to.

So an oddly engaging lo-fi second album that bewilders and beguiles. Prepare to be surprised and seduced.

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