Take someone with a penchant for 60's- influenced melodic pop, played with a 70's folk-rock sensibility; flavour it with a dash of good old 80's-tinged introspection and sense of melancholy. What would you have? Well, you’d probably have a pretentious, nostalgia-obsessed, whiny self-indulgent singer/ songwriter twerp who’s at least twenty years out of date. So, moving along...

Originally from Northern England (admittedly a place where introspection and melancholia are quite rampant), Steve Robinson has been writing and performing in the U.S. for the past 20 years.

Although currently a solo artist, he spent the better part of the 80's & 90's performing with Florida-based folk-rockers, the Headlights. Lending a little Anglo flavour to a decidedly American band with an obvious affection for the Byrds, Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead made for a few interesting musical sparks, and the marriage lasted a dozen years or so.

Along the way the band shared the stage with the likes of The Band, The Grateful Dead, Steve Winwood, the Ramones, Joe Walsh, the Bodeans, the Smithereens, and the usual drunken harmonica players asking if they could sit in; weathered the collapse of their Nashville-based label on the eve of the release of their aptly titled “Test the Spirit” album, and ultimately took their love of the Byrds to the next level by becoming the touring band of Byrds founder/ frontman Roger McGuinn.

Robinson’s relationship with the Headlights proved to be a valuable one, and his exposure to the delights of The Byrds, Gram Parsons et al, coupled with his long-time love affair with The Everly Brothers, fostered a growing fondness for tight harmonies, acoustic guitars, mandolins, harmonicas and the like; sounds that continue to colour his solo folky-pop (or is it poppy-folk?) recordings today.

Comments from old friends back in England, concerned about the Americanisation of his sound (“You sound like a bloody Yank who’s listened to a little too much REM”!)are tempered by the insistence of Stateside colleagues that his sound is distinctly English; more musically sympathetic to Morrissey than Stipe. Certainly, a quick listen to the shadowy, often nostalgic references to his homeland in his songs confirm that while his sound bears the musical imprint of living in the U.S. for so long, lyrically he’s coming from a different place. Closer to Neil Finn than Neil Young; rootsy Americana it most definitely is not. Nor is this closet folkie overtly English in the Fairport Conventional sense. It’s apparent that Robinson is straddling two cultures here; one foot in each camp, so to speak, and appears quite comfortable with the arrangement.

So, British or American; Union Jack or Stars and Stripes-it’s red, white and blue either way isn’t it? Call it folky-pop; call it poppy-folk; call it poppycock if you must. Just don’t call him a pretentious, nostalgic-obsessed-whiny, self-indulgent singer/ songwriter twerp.

Please Emmalene

Folk Rock
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Jeff Allen Myers

11/9/2007 1:47:12 AM
HEY STEVE! Nice to see you on IAC....




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* Your song 'Please Emmalene' has just been added to Im Looking At You station!
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"Undercurrent" is the second solo Sunshine Drenchy Records release from the ex-Roger McGuinn sideman and former voice of Florida's folk-rock darlings, the Headlights.
Unlike 2005's DIY dark horse "Away For The Day","Undercurrent" is more of a collaborative affair and benefits from the sympathetic (bordering on telepathic, according to Steve) efforts of co-producer and multi-instrumentalist Ed Woltil(The Ditchflowers). It also features veteran drummer Chuck Darling(Nineveh Project); a guest spot from Celtic fiddler Victor Gagnon(Seven Nations,Rathkeltair), as well as some harmony vocal help from Steve's ten year-old daughter, Emma, who managed to nail her parts in two takes (her dad could learn something)
On offer is a song of love and commitment (Love Is Real); an expression of awe at the bond between a parent and a child (Please Emmalene); a nursery rhyme-infused homage to a dearly departed mother (Wooden Hill), and an old-timey, music-hall influenced singalong remembrance of schooldays past (The Best Days Of Your Life).
Lest the view appears a little too much like an exercise in ever-sentimental, rose-tinted nostalgia, Robinson also tosses in a rather disquieting strangled-folk rumination on global religious conflict (Road To Ruin); a tale of drunken excess, emotional disconnect and failed ambition(Wasted And Waiting) and an apologetic lament on the pervasive celebrity worship culture that we humans seem content to wallow in (Boring God). A little undercurrent, you might say.

"Every cut is a crystalline gem" --Luke Torn, Uncut Magazine

"Undercurrent is often gorgeously melodic -- the ballad "Love is Real" borders on majestic -- and Robinson's clear, controlled tenor is the perfect conduit." --Eric Snider, Creative Loafing.

" ...his sound here straddles the divide between folk and pop without ever losing sight of melody... It's too bad this missed the cut for my Top 50 list, as I had just received the disc while compiling it. Rest assured, it will be near the top when the year-end Top 100 rolls around." --Stephen Ferra, Absolute Powerpop.

"...brilliant melodies, beautiful harmonies and songwriting that captures the best of Anglo and American pop" --Curtis Ross, Tampa Tribune

"...his songwriting and guitar playing are, as his label suggests, drenched in sunshine." --David Cowling, Americana UK.
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Steve Robinson