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CD REVIEW: Steve Palmer Band - Apparition
By Cyrus Rhodes - 04/07/2010 - 12:37 PM EDT

Artist: Steven Palmer
Album: Apparition
Label: Arythmia
Genre: Americana rock
Sounds Like: Roy Orbison, Boz Scaggs, Nick Lowe
Technical Grade: 10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 5/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 6/10
Performance Skill: 5/10
Best Songs: Living on the Streets, Where did your love go, Living a Lie
Weakness: Dated vocal delivery, Lacks Musical Flow and Ebbing, Emotional Peaks and Valleys
CD Review:

Americana 5 piece Steve Palmer Band from Nashville, releases their debut CD “Apparition” on April 20, 2010 under Palmer's own Arythmia Records.

Logging in at just over 46 minutes the CD kicks things off with “Living on the Streets” an upbeat intro piece that serves up steady rock beat, catchy vocal harmonies, and hooky melodic accents from Palmer. Track 2, ”Living a Life” shifts gears a bit with driving rhythms, infectious melodies, and well placed vocal harmonies. Track 3 “Never Gonna See Her Again” serves up a tight R&B groove with classic psychedelic Hammond Organ chops, impressive solo guitar work, and hooky chorus. As the CD slowly unfolds its obvious Palmers band is first rate. Like a well oiled machine this 5 piece pumps out some amazing grooves, stylistic chops, and impressive accents along the way. Guitarist Bryan Ewald deserves a lot of credit here. An honorable mention goes out to Background vocalists Vicki Hampton & Cindy Walker for their amazing melodic placement and background vocal support. The songs themselves are short and sweet musical experiences, never to winded, getting right to the point. Now back to Palmer – his vocal style is in the vein of Boz Scaggs, Nick Lowe, and Dave Mathews. But above all I would classify Steve Palmer as a modern day Roy Orbison in many ways. His music is consistent, presenting a pleasant blend of Pop, 70’s Rock, and classic Americana. Many of the songs within the catalogue are upbeat and positive, presenting care free subject matter and lyrical content. Add a fiddle or a dash of slide guitar to some of the songs & they could easily pass for modern-day Country or R&B. But aside from all the aforementioned it’s amazing how Palmer just lets it all hang out vocally, letting the chips fall where they may. I get the impression Palmer is one artist who’s comfortable in his own skin, and courageous enough to show us who he really is. From passionate songs “Where did your love go”, & “Get that Right” to more upbeat melodies like “Get that Right” to “Her own Place” this CD is surprisingly consistent and extremely entertaining across the board. There are a few sad but true moments as well. Like on songs “Something’s will Never Change” to “No Words to Say.” This is where we see the true brilliance of Steve Palmer shine through.    

Thou Palmers’ baritone works, it’s nothing special. Despite some of the positives Palmer lacks an amazing honey vocal ability like say a Kenny Loggins, Keith Urban, or Chris Isaak. In fact over time his baritone & predictable vibrato will take their toll. Eventually you come to place where you just roll with it. There’s a time and place for a nice full vibrato, unfortunately Palmer elects to slap it everywhere. Someone should remind him it’s not 1980 anymore. Palmer’s vocal style also comes on way to strong, and needs more peak and valley.  If I could say anything to Palmer right now I would say - Don’t be afraid to step back from the microphone, find that pocket and slowly build your songs to a strong classic finale. Most legendary songwriters, and performers know how to do this all to well making that critical (singer to listener) emotional connection. Mainly due to the fact that the subject matter coincides with the vocal inflection and emotion. Most songs on "Apparition" have a lot of potential, but many miss the mark as they fail to build like great songs typically do, needing more musical flow and ebb.

From start to finish “Apparation” is a very entertaining collection of music. Its strong suit is its Roy Orbison vocal feel, amazing musicianship, and rock solid consistency. Song for song it’s extremely melodic and at times can even be infectious. My hats off to Steve Palmer for letting it all hang out as he is clearly is an artist who is not afraid of taking risks. If you’re looking for a consistent musical catalogue that dishes out a modern blend of Modern-day Americana, with solid musicianship, and a unique vocal swagger reminiscent of Roy Orbison them I highly recommend you jump into “Apparition” head first.

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