Published on October 4th, 2016 | by Andy Barnes0
Steve Pledger – Somewhere Between
Released 7th November
Steve Pledger set the bar high with his breakthrough release, ‘Striking Matches in the Wind’ a wonderful collection of emotional charged songs, more focused, playing to his lyrical and melodic strengths, garnering attention in acoustic and folk circles. The obvious question therefore with new album ‘Somewhere Between’, can he continue to evolve and develop from such a strong position. Well, evolve he certainly has, ‘Somewhere Between’ encompasses more polished production and complex musical arrangements, Lukas Drinkwater, Tanya Allen and Olly Winters-Owen playing key bass, fiddle and drum / percussive roles respectively, adding a depth and richness to the compositions as required.
Immediately we’re drawn into Pledgers elegiac word play, hoping and praying for a better understanding, where more tolerance and people exude greater levels of consideration for others. Opening track ‘To Change the World’ incorporates a shuffling, funky drum intro which underpins throughout not detracting from Steve debating the subject of can songs change the world. Ultimately he decides, no, this the role of people and actions rather than just words, but if those words generate thought and ultimately action, surely a correlation can still be made.
Steve continues to waste no time with subtle introduction, instead it’s straight for the jugular with his emotive, impassioned delivery. It’s this, alongside deeply personal lyrical subject matter which differentiates from many. ‘Where’d You Get That Heart From?’ proves a damning indictment on selfishness and lack of compassion to others, with a heart ‘as black as coal from the earth.’ It’s evident he feels his art, not just a protest singer, for protest singing sake, instead a librettist with a genuine heart, railing against injustice. ‘Doing Well’s’ jaunty melody disguises an underbelly of social commentary on government cuts and policy, pressurising people with disabilities. In ‘Lefty, Wait Your Turn’ his evolution from mainly acoustic composition most prominent, the addition of Nigel Neill on keyboards in particular suggests the influence of a Springsteen or perhaps Graham Parker apparent within full band production. Cutting lyrical edge is maintained, undisguised frustration at the European unit exit I’d suggest, plus other world decisions questioned with the refrain, ‘You don’t get much change out of the bottom of a ballot box.’
From ‘Lefty…’ straight into an archetypal piece of affecting Steve Pledger, the more stripped back tones of ‘Me and the Silence’ uncover a sincerely heartfelt plea for more understanding of depression and associated effects. Steve Pledger always unafraid to explore the profounder aspects of humanity, ‘Other’ written from a transgender viewpoint, outlining the necessity for people to express themselves as individuals and ‘Right to be Wrong’ an acceptance we should never allow arrogance to suggest we know everything. It’s ok to be wrong and then learn from our own failings.
I’ve followed Steve Pledger’s musical growth since a support slot encounter in a small village hall in Somerset a few years ago, via his recorded output and also featured in session for Sonic Bandwagon on two occasions so far. A humble man, his only failing at this juncture, perhaps a lack of appreciation to how good he actually is and could easily go on to be in the future. Hopefully the surely overwhelming positive reaction that will arise from his third album, generates ever more confidence in his own ability.
This record somewhere between a great and a brilliant one, it’s rightful place a stepping stone towards wider recognition. More commercially accessible yes, although without quality and integrity being engulfed in an attempt to be commercial. The sheer essence of what makes Steve Pledger such a special talent apparent throughout.
‘Somewhere Between’ will be available from November 7th at www.stevepledger.co.uk