What just happened? I was contemplating on the eve of my 30th birthday just how unnerving the next day could possibly be. Ridiculous I know, but I’m sure the majority of us go through it. But then, something appeared in my inbox. Travel back to the previous winter and I was asked to pick my top 10 albums of 2013 for Bottle Imp, and Steve Gibbs’ joint effort with Cyrus Reynolds, In Passing was right up there! I sat for a moment, and thought am I really in the mood for this tonight. But instinctively knew, yes! I needed this tonight. Not for mere self pity, but for the fact that I did not know that what I was about to listen to was the single most beautiful album of this year.
Adrift, Steve Gibbs. Remember this moment. I will. Lets talk about the songs that make this a masterpiece. We open with the title track. 6 minutes of what this whole album is about. Emotion and ambience at its best, its very best. For me, nobody and I mean nobody, knows how to evoke neo classical production to this standard other than Steve Gibbs. Subtlety and being at piece with oneself are all flowing through me as I begin to appreciate the amount of thought that has clearly gone into the composition and arrangement.
'Råklipp [Raw Cut]' is where we start the piano journey in full flow. Of corse, I relate to this track with the upmost respect being surrounded by and currently teaching my son the Swedish language. To me I find it motivating and incredibly restraint. I feel myself wanting to be taken to new places with this song but then only to realise that it is untouchable already. That’s a real musician. It is what it is, that it why it is there. And so because of this, my favourite 2 tracks of the album proceed.
I am now 30. I am ironing my favourite shirt and I’m about to go out with family to celebrate. I skip straight to ‘Patterns’, track 3. I feel like every emotion has been taken from me and written into note format within the 4 minutes of ironing my shirt. How did you do that? Violins interject the song half way through and yes I’m concentrating more on the song than the fact that I don’t even like the shirt i’m ironing. But I still find comfort. ‘Contention’. A wholesome, wonderful, (somebody put this on a film soundtrack pleeeease!!!!) song. It stands on it’s own yet wouldn’t be what it is without the pure intimacy of every song around it. It’s my favourite, but i’d rather write less and ask you to just listen more to give it it’s full potential listening pleasure.
‘Bokeh’ brings not just the new implementation of acoustic guitar but a new feel which still fits perfectly with the balance of the rest of the album. With faded Glockenspiel, it does stand out on the album as a whole, but quite frankly is a work of art. It’s daring too. Placing something a little different here manages to break up any form of complacency and show you that Steve has such a good ear for production.
Finishing back on the neo-classical spectrum, ‘Low Light’ and ‘Evoke’ draw an end to this debut album with such precision and grace that your just happy to let the whole thing resonate and then hit play/repeat again. I mean I listen to a lot pianists new & old these days but I feel that this is more sincere. It’s Phillip Glass with precision. Phillip, this is Steve. He writes music. No, he writes MUSIC! It’s glorious.
Do I really need to say anymore. I’m overwhelmed. I’m humbled. And yeah, so what if I needed something to make me feel ok about turning 30! I needed it, and it worked. If i was turning 29 or 31 and this landed in my inbox, i’d react in exactly pretty much the same way. I listened, I connected and I reacted. Isn’t this what music should do for people?