Steve Marion, frontman of the instrumental band Delicate Steve, is a collaboration cowboy, having worked with artists from the Dirty Projectors to tUnE-yArDs to Paul Simon. But in his newest release, ‘This Is Steve,’ Marion focuses on himself by, ironically, not focusing much at all. Regarding the production of ‘This Is Steve,” Marion told NPR, “I tried to not let my mind get in the way of the creative process… For me, that means aiming for an honest representation of where I am at creatively instead of striving to create a masterpiece.” Marion is currently signed to Luaka Bop, the label of another multi-instrumentalist David Byrne (‘This Is Steve’ is being released via ANTI- Records however).
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Everything about ‘This Is Steve’ runs parallel to the laidback attitude Marion took towards the album, which was recorded in only 11 days. As evidenced by the video for the album’s ‘Cartoon Rock,’ Delicate Steve is a project centered around positivity, wonderment, and a keen quirkiness. The music that accompanies the scene of Marion’s bandmate romping through a park in a bright pink suit and matching lipstick tells the same story; a ZZ-Top inspired reimagining of what “Cartoon Rock” might sound like. The whimsical nature of the tune is one of the only traits that resonates throughout an album that goes through sounds and genres like the White Rabbit on an opium high. Similarly, ‘This Is Steve’ unfurls like the stages of a drug trip. The opener, ‘Animals,’ comes in hot with a psychedelic, Beatles-in-India style guitar. ‘Winners’ shotguns this rollicking high, our dilated pupils doting on a rising and falling reverbed guitar and what sounds like a pocket-primed Kazoo. Then, the comedown. Like water for the dehydrated, piano quenches this guitar heavy album through relaxing jaunts like ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Driving,’ a track that imitates the feeling of pulling up to something big, an acid fueled epiphany or the intricate placement of steady percussion and a surprisingly pleasant screeching sound.
If ‘This Is Steve’ is a portrait of an artist, it’s damn lucky Marion is an instrumental one. The listener isn’t distracted by lyrics, whether poetic, whiny or telling. Like Marion said in an interview with Wesleyan’s Aural “at the end of the day, it’s all about trying to give you a feeling.” And after letting this album dissolve on your tongue, you’ll be hard pressed not to feel Delicate Steve crawling all over you.
‘This Is Steve’ is out January 27th via ANTI- Records.