CD REVIEW: Steve Oliver - “Global Kiss"
By: Cyrus Rhodes
'amazing musicianship - world class songwriting"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Smooth Jazz
Sounds Like: The Rippingtons, The Jazzmasters, Joe Sample
Technical Grade: 10/10
Substandard vocal delivery on 3 pieces.
Los Angeles guitarist/vocalist Steve Oliver releases his latest CD entitled “Global Kiss” in 2010. Steve is no stranger to the music business having released several CD’s now featuring numerous hit singles which include songs like “West End” & Highway One”
The CD gently takes flight with “Fun in the Sun” a carefree& upbeat intro piece that’s serves up steady rock rhythm against welcoming saxophone, harmonies, & impressive guitar licks from Oliver. Track 2 “Global Kiss” shifts gears a bit with primal percussive accents eventually lending itself to a smooth jazz classic with hypnotic guitar riffs, well placed keyboard & vocal accents. Track 3 “Long Road” has a nice melodic groove to it, serving up yet peaceful tranquility, complete with well placed saxophone & guitar accents that sit well within the pocket. The CD makes a good first impression with 3 solid tracks in a row. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic smooth jazz pioneers like The Rippingtons, The Jazz Masters, & Joe Sample. I would definitely classify this music as Smooth Jazz served up hot right out of the microwave. Perhaps the music takes more musical risks than some of the aforementioned bands. Getting back to Oliver’s guitar virtuoso - is amazing & definitely in the vein of Russ Freeman, Earl Klugh. Perhaps he’s not as recognized as some of these guys but it’s safe to say he deserves to swim in the deep end of the pool with them. You even get brief flashes of brilliant classical guitar on Track 9 “Another Place (Interlude). Equally as impressive is some of chops delivered from Oliver’s band namely from the piano & drums. This mixing is brilliant, & full of musical variety with exotic keyboard & synthesizer accents, with homey coated vocal harmonies, saxophones, percussive accents, table, xylophones, & assorted horn sections. The CD stays well within the Smooth Jazz fairway but you will notice many different cultural flavors with well placed percussive & horn accents. From hooky “Barcelo” to passionate to my personal favorite “Ba Aye” to dynamic “Sunlight Within” & True Vision” to passionate “Angel Amore” this CD pretty much has something for just about everyone.
Track 5 "Life Goes On” sticks out like a sore thumb & drags you to the finish line. Oliver delivers substandard vocal ability here as his widely spaced vibrato will take a major tool on you. Oliver clearly the lacks honey coated abilities, & the technical execution that come through years of practice. He is clearly inexperience in front of the microphone as he plays it safe avoiding any serious risks that would showcase a world class vocal ability. Emotions seems way to choreographed on the 3 tracks he sings on. As a result he fails to make the critical (singer to listener) emotional connection. Overall his voice just sounds unorthodox, inexperienced, amateurish & even somewhat awkward to the ears. Oliver is perhaps guilty of raising the bar high on himself, as these 3 tracks simply don't make the grade when compared to the rest of the material. Track 7 “Fearless” & Track 11 “Take Me Away” are not quite as painful, but present more of the same conservative, lukewarm vocal delivery as the others. Though the songs themselves are above the bar, & I love the messages they stand out from the others for this very reason.
Song for song, note for note “Global Kiss” is an impressive musical production from start to finish. Each song is a short & sweet musical experience never to short, never to winded. Each one possessing a unique musical personality & signature groove to call it’s own. Smooth Jazz fans will love this CD as it fills the sonic space peacefully & unobtrusively. Sure the music is overly synthetic, the performances are primarily basic rock based 4/4 rhythms – but hey that’s smooth jazz folks. Along the way you will catch brilliant flashes of amazing musicianship & world class songwriting as well. Bands like The Rippingtons, Joe Sample, The Jazzmasters & yes even Steve Oliver get a lot of credit from me as they take the edge of a million or so elevator rides around the world each & every day. They live for moments like this & we love them every second for it.
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