Steven Norman Long releases a Message for the Masses
Message for the Masses is the latest album available by San Francisco based Steven Norman Long. On “Message” expect original heartfelt songs via Long’s voice and guitar at the focal point. He’s accompanied by a few impressive musicians and you will hear everything from electric piano, acoustic guitars, horns, harmonies, drum sampling, R&B style riffs, solos and accordion. The band backing him up is impressive. This is true to form Americana-Blues at its best – served up hot and spicy jazz-pop. I was especially blown away at how all songs drove you naturally towards the chorus with an amazing vocal touch and finesse compatible to the peak. I could be wrong but I don’t think Long is influenced by the likes of Jackie Wilson, Lou Rawls, Barry White and Big Joe Turner. The Rhodes Piano will remind you of Ray Charles and bass lines just help push songs forward, and the vibe if you pay attention carefully has this retro 70’s blues-pop embellishment. As the CD evolves it showcases a really blues-rock steady line up of songs with musical tidbits like solo guitar licks, and straight forward rhythm section. This is such a rocking album what else can I say in the end, it can even transcended space and time. Let me explain. You can easily picture scenes with this music in out door music festival with the smell of crawfish in the air – but wait this is San Francisco. With the accordion brings in an element of South East Creole.
The intro pieces “Message for the Masses”, “Heart of the Matter” and “Change my Ways” get things underway smoothly presenting really uplifting, yet emotional charged vocals from Long. Music at times reminiscent of acts such as The Wild Magnolias, Professor Longhair, Rebirth Brass Band, The Radiators and Little Feat. When Long hits the chorus on “Panhandler” I literally felt his words. It was then I realized I heard some classic Muddy Waters shine through. All songs present really strong melodies and some top tiered vocals from Long. It’s nice to know a guy like Long remembers his musical roots within this genre, while exploring musical styles like Jazz and Hip/Hop Pop.
Also present lyrics and music about some real life topics – the good, bad and ugly. It’s also impossible to deny the superiority of Long as a songwriter and vocalist. In conclusion, here’s an album that quite literally made my day. Pardon me for saying, but I get so many boring, un-interesting, overly-forgetful CD’s to review day in and day out. I have been dying to listen to a CD like this for quite some time. It’s subliminal, it’s epic, it’ a grand concept yet painfully simple in stature. It will literally make you want to dance, laugh and cry. It’s sure to get your attention. Long is a bit magical in this aspect. From the production to the musicians, to the songs that make an impact, to Long himself – “Message for the Masses” delivers!
Rating 4/5 Stars
Written by Bonnie Gregory. Approved by Cyrus Rhodes of IMD Music Media LLC