In 1998 Steve Strauss´ debut album Powderhouse Road was released by Stockfisch Records.
His unique vocal delivery simultaneously fascinates and polarizes – neutrality is not an option. This exceptional album featured (among many others) Hans Hartmann (double bass), Chris Jones (guitar & dobro), Nils Tuxen (pedal steel) and Detour (vocals).
Stockfisch-Shop Please note: There are still some parts to be translated into English.
- proves himself to be a singer/songwriter of remarkable depth of feeling and sensitivity.
22 years ago Stockfisch Records released “Powderhouse Road”, the debut album of the New York-Singer/Songwriter Steve Strauss. It was groundbreaking with regard to its recording quality and was very well received. “A Very Thin Wire”, the fourth and newest album of the now 55 year old American artist is being released on SACD by the Stockfisch label boss and producer Günter Pauler.
The sound is pristine with perfect instrument separation, a high dynamic range and a resolution which brings out the finest details with high precision. Strauss' dark and multifaceted voice is at all times present at the center of the stage without pushing the instruments into the background. Steve Strauss and the Stockfisch team have created without doubt yet another audiophile gem.
Günter Pauler shows once again how it’s possible to emphasize the individual character of each song with cleverly devised sound design. Steve Strauss, whose singer/songwriter music reveals deep insights into his emotional life and psyche, is congenially
accompanied by the string-virtuoso and multi instrumentalist Ian Melrose this time.
The album begins lively and vibrant with the song “Somebody Tell Me”, which is followed by the melancholic and pensive “Blue”: this is a touching song based on Strauss’ many years of experience working as a psychotherapist with children and young people. With “In The Flood” he sympathetically tells us of the dreadful floods that took place in his hometown of Binghampton.
Super-Audio-CD Hybrid: SACD Stereo + CD-Layer
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In addition to the 11 songs of his own, Strauss also presents two covers, one of which particularly stands out. In 2005 for his second album he had recorded a moving version of Springsteen’s “Youngstown”; and this time around it is “The Heart of Saturday Night” from the great Tom Waits, which Strauss skilfully makes his own.
The result is a collection of 13 musical gems. This is a highly varied album representative of the best songwriter tradition, inviting you to lean back, relax and enjoy. It envelopes you with a glass-clear sound which makes you weak at the knees and lets you melt away. Mathias Pack
The Return of the Songwriter-Hero: No need for a clock or a calendar; Steve Strauss ticks in much more expansive dimensions. Roughly 10 years after his success with “Just Like Love” the singer & composer now presents his new album: “Sea of Dreams”.
Why did it take so long? Because Steve Strauss lives in two worlds. Parallel to his passion for guitar and writing music this man from New York State is a social worker in his home town, or to put it in his words: „I am a man upon a road, It doesn’t have a name, In my pockets only dust, But in my heart a flame…“. This flame brought him back - with 14 new songs and arrangements - to the Stockfisch Records studio. In this new material you might discover traces of the Steve Strauss of “Just Like Love”, but the striking thing is a new more courageous style. The noble Duesenberg guitar dominates in many of the songs, and there is a new playfulness. The title of the album betrays his new consciousness: he dives into a sea of personal dreams - “Monster(s)” inhabit a “Freaky World” devastated by “Acts of War”.
Sounds like global criticism - which it is, but which is never hard or bitter. Lightness and humour are seminal elements in “Sea of Dreams”, carried by the drive, strong melodies and the Stockfisch-Studio-team mix. The resulting sonic effect is highly complex but most importantly it supports Steve Strauss’s ideas. Accordion- and saxophone solos encounter unusual accompanying instruments like e.g. the tuba.
Super-Audio-CD Hybrid: SACD Stereo + CD-Layer
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This album displays perhaps the biggest and most diverse sound spectrum of Günter Pauler’s recent productions, from the expansive panorama-mix in “Monster” to the consciously sparse ballad “The Memory of Stones”, which is purely a piano accompaniment and a flute-solo in the distance. A pastoral. In these quiet moments the poetic strength of his lyrics becomes particularly evident. Steve Strauss is a master of his craft - telling a mini-story in each individual line. His voice has also matured: a more dark, powerful and emotional timbre. It is very moving to hear his tribute cover-versions of songs by two so completely different American songwriter heroes: “For The Turnstiles” by Neil Young and “With Open Arms” by Burt Bacharach. With the latter song he bids farewell to the listeners of his new album - an easy-listening experience, almost. It is much more a melancholy review of the whole album, but with an indefinable lightness, whistling a tune on the way …
With “Powderhouse Road“, Steve Strauss proved himself to be a singer/songwriter of remarkable depth of feeling and sensitivity. This is also true of just like love. The songs of Steve Strauss are, once again, not exactly easy to approach. Maybe some elements of his art can be attributed to his job as a social worker in Vestal, NY. Bitter-sweet melancholy, but also a trace of cynicism gets hold of the listener at the same time.
Steve Strauss with his laid-back style of guitar playing (a quality further developed by fellow Stockfisch musicians like Chris Jones) is none other than – a poet. You can feel this when he sings of the golden era of youth spent in the shadow of the Argyle Bridge when war was only real “in far-off countries”. You can feel this when in “Angel”– in the beginning meant to be a comment on life in New York, which after September 11th reached an even deeper level of meaning – he sings of emptiness, loneliness, homelessness.
In just like love Strauss creates a mixture of traditional tunes and touchingly naive lyrics (“Sunday Best”) and critical views of society (as in his cover version of the Springsteen classic “Youngstown”). While even in “Jerusalem” (“Powderhouse Road”) he sounded a bit like T.S. Eliot’s poem "The Journey of the Magi”, the title track “Just Like Love” and the cryptic “The Dirt” are introspective musings, and Steve’s play reaches a dreamlike intensity.
Super-Audio-CD Hybrid: SACD Stereo + 5.1 Surround + CD-Layer
SFR 357.4036.2 • total time 64:33
Steve Strauss's debut CD, "Powderhouse Road", has won the praise of critics for its fine musical craftsmanship and depth of feeling. "Compared to Strauss," says the German edition of Acoustic Guitar magazine, "even J.J. Cale seems nervous and tense." Steve has no trouble living up to the comparison. "I like a laid-back delivery," he says, "as long as the material is intense."
A native of New York, Steve grew up listening to every genre of music from folk to jazz to bluegrass and blues, all of which are reflected in his unique songwriting and performance style. He is a talented singer and multi-instrumentalist, as comfortable crooning behind a guitar in his rich baritone voice as he is ripping hot licks from a mandolin or pounding out rhythms on a Djembe.
SFR 357.6019.2 • total time 61:30 • CD
Since the release of Powderhouse Road in the fall of 1998, Steve has toured Germany to the rave reviews of both critics and audiences alike. His performances have been called "thought provoking," "an unforgettable experience," "ironic," and "wistful."
"I want to move people," says Steve. "I want them to walk away from my show a little bit changed." For Steve Strauss, that's not hard to accomplish. Listen and be moved. www.referencediscs.com.au