Steve Morse Band
The first time I heard Steve Morse was when I saw him perform live. He was playing with Kansas at the time, and they were doing a show at a local fairgrounds. Steve was pulling double duty, as he was also opening the show with The Steve Morse Band. To say he impressed me in both performances would be an understatement. While I thought he added a tremendous amount of energy to the Kansas set, his instrumental voyages with his own band left me wanting more.
Split Decision is the newest release from The Steve Morse Band, and again, they do not disappoint. The name is appropriate, as the first half of the album is a driving tour-de-force of heavy hitting rock-and-roll (see the frenzy of “Mechanical Frenzy”), while the second half leads you on a relaxing, meandering journey through softer, more melodic numbers (like the self-contradicting “Midnight Daydream”). Not many musicians would have the confidence to record an album with two such distinct styles, for fear of alienating fans. Likewise, few record companies would back an album that wouldn’t fit into a pigeonhole in a record store genre slot. Luckily, SMB has signed with Magna Carta, who has confidence in their talent, and are adventurous enough to work with their original ideas.
While Steve may not provide the flashy, fret-burning intensity of a Yngwie Malmsteen or a Joe Satriani, his work is intense, mature, and complicated. I like to listen to instrumental music while I work, because I tend to get distracted by singing along to regular music. I can’t do that with this album. Each time I try, I find myself sitting back and listening, soaking in everything that is going on in these songs, always discovering something new. Split Decision is charged with an infectious energy that brings a smile to your face, because you know they had fun making this record. If you are a fan of SMB’s previous work, pick up this album. If you like instrumental guitar-driven music that is not afraid to explore new influences — from classical to jazz, from Celtic to Middle-Eastern — give it a listen, you might find a new friend.
Steve is currently playing with Deep Purple. They will be touring the US this summer.