Steve Oliver – World Citizen

May 22, 2012

Guitarist (actually multi-instrumentalist) Steve Oliver is one of the most exciting and entertaining artists I’ve ever experienced live. Since witnessing his one-man shows right after the release of his Positive Energy release back in 2002, I was convinced I had happened upon a phenom in the making. With interesting scatting soulful vocals with a light touch of pop/rock n’ roll buried just beneath the surface and a handle on every instrument within his reach, how could I have thought otherwise?  Of course, at the very core of all that was the music.  Its brilliance, its air of uniqueness yet familiarity. Here, a decade later with an array of luminaries helping out on World Citizen -his newest offering-what makes Steve Oliver tick musically is more alive than ever, the radiance of that music as brilliant as ever.

Some of those joining this party include Paul Taylor, Will Donato, and Andrew Neu doing it up on sax, the electric Bonny B on drums and percussion, the always sharp Tom Schuman on keys, and a solid Donald Philips on bass. For good measure, the wonderful, cool-dressing Alan Hewitt puts in an appearance on the lead track on the B3 organ. Nope, failure was not in the cards here.

Incorporating snappy rhythms, smooth, rich melodies and world influences, World Citizen captures all that Oliver could hope to capture to help tell a comprehensive story of how he’s used his music to travel through these years since First View, his 1999 debut.

Rolling it all out with the endearing “Watching the World” with Will Donato on sax, Oliver dances through this happy set, offering rich, passionate vocals on “How Will You Know,” “New Possibilities,” and “Time Never Goes Away,” showcasing Paul Taylor’s sax on the upbeat “One Big Smile,” ushering in the sweetness and beauty of “Pure Spirit,” and taking us on an international journey as he becomes a “Desert Traveler” with the help of a very competent Brooke Alford on violin.

Oliver pulled no punches on this one and easily scored a TKO. World Citizen is a must-hear if you’re serious about your music. – Ronald Jackson

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