Songs from the Orange Room
Seattle singer/songwriter Kyle Stevens inches toward the folky, Americana stylings that the Emerald City is gradually becoming known for without leaping full-bodied into it. Stevens is, first and foremost, a rock musician, and the fingerprints of Seattle’s early ’90s grunge heyday can be detected albeit in a relatively less noisy fashion in his work. But there’s no denying what inspired the guitar fuzz of “Getaway Car” or the brittle riffs of “Thicker Than Leather,” which wouldn’t have been too out of place on Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy album. Stevens even sings with a deeper, more husky tone on “Thicker Than Leather,” reminiscent of Eddie Vedder’s arena-filling booming voice without self-consciously aping him. However, Stevens takes a rootsier approach than his Puget Sound predecessors, his songs expressing an obvious affection for Tom Petty and the Gin Blossoms.
The radiant opener, “Sparkle and Fall,” sounds nothing like what follows, though. On this cut, Stevens veers closely to the incandescent new wave of Echo & the Bunnymen. With its lush strings and ringing guitars, “Sparkle and Fall” could have been a killer Sire Records single circa 1988 when dreamy bands such as the Wild Swans and the Ocean Blue were championed on the college charts. “The Last Time I Was Bored” cranks up the amps while hinting at Stevens’ direction towards Americana. By the third track, the kiss-off “This Is Not a Love Song” (no relation to the Public Image Ltd. post-punk classic although it would have been amusing to hear that given a country makeover), Stevens has embraced the genre, even having Patrick Porter to add pedal steel to the mix.
Although featuring only six tunes, Songs from the Orange Room doesn’t feel half-full. Stevens doesn’t cut us short here. Every track has a memorable hook or two, and Stevens is versatile enough to prevent singer/songwriter boredom from kicking in.
Kyle Stevens: www.kylestevensmusic.com