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MORNING ROAD

Stephen Palmer soothes the ears with folk, blues, and even jazz on ‘Morning Road’

June 20, 2008 by kyrbyraine

Reviewed by Kit Burns

Steven Palmer/Morning Road

You feel at home listening to the music of Steven Palmer. It has a cozy, soothing quality, like the soundtrack of childhood memories, voices from the past given a ghostly spell from the years gone by. On the opening title cut, Palmer sounds like three of the most popular singer/songwriters of all time - John Denver, Dan Fogelberg, and James Taylor - in one song. His voice shifts emotions throughout the track, but the consistency of his heart never wavers. Erynn Marshall’s fiddle soars on “Going Home” as Palmer’s warm vocals are pushed to the front of the mix. I’m reminded of another acoustic icon, Gordon Lightfoot. Palmer has exquisite taste in influences if my ears are accurately pinpointing them.

Palmer is a terrific guitar player, most often aiming for cinematic prettiness as on “Educated Touch,” wherein you can savor every affectionate moment of his 12-string. Although Palmer’s foundation is in acoustic folk, he never limits himself to it, flirting with jazzy sensibilities on “I’m in Love” and the blues on “Walk On.” He covers the multiple genres so well that you can easily imagine him recording a separate album for each one. 

The title is apt because, if you’re traveling for an extended period of time, Steven Palmer’s Morning Road is what you want playing in your car. There are miles in Palmer’s voice; you can almost see the scenery that his mind has captured through the decades of his life. I love how the title track recalls Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” at one point. Is it intentional? Perhaps or maybe unconsciously. Nevertheless, it fits the mood and meaning of the song.

Palmer is no hotshot acoustic gunslinger; this is a man that, if he had started recording albums such as this early in his life, we might be looking at him differently, such as an icon in his autumn years. Palmer’s songwriting and guitar playing are tasteful and bittersweet; each cut is crafted with feeling and poetic flair. The tropical “A Simple Man Needs a Simple Plan” invigorates with a summer glow while Palmer’s cover of Charles Johnson’s “The Dill Pickled Rag” has some stunningly beautiful crystalline riffs. Lovely

Published in: June 20, 2008