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Steve Unruh - Song To The Sky CD (album) cover


Steve Unruh


Prog Folk

3.89 | 18 ratings

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Dan Bobrowski
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Steve Unruh is a multi-instrumentalist. On Song to the Sky you will hear acoustic guitars, violin, drumkit, flute, electric bass, vocals, tabla, congas, and kalimba. All played with great passion and virtuosic intensity. More than his abilities, though, are the energy and love you can feel in the notes and words. The music IS the man.

Of the three Steve Unruh releases that I have in my collection, Song to the Sky is, IMO, his strongest album. Steve pulls off some wonderful instrumental performances, his acoustic fingerpicking is exceptional, he makes his violins soar and weep, his percussive work is first class and lyrically, the man writes intriguing, thought provoking lyrics, straight from his heart.

The sleepless musing of "1 a.m. On a Tuesday" is a prayer for celestial intervention in changing those things we cannot change. Strong instrumental melodies, with violin and guitar taking lead, leaves me with a feeling of melancholy.

The epic "Song to the Sky" is a sweeping twenty-two minute, mostly instrumental, melodic watershed of hooks, moving solos, inventive fingerpicking and emotive violin. Lyrically, this is a very spiritual tune, seeking guidance and reassurance that all is not hopeless. Steve's pained vocals tug at the heart-strings. Shifting into overdrive, the bass cuts through, very Squire-like. Treated violin effects add a watery flanged motif that surfaces and rises skyward as the effect drops off and the bass lead takes over. This is one of my favorite moments in this particular tune. Never one to let things wander aimlessly, acoustic guitar takes us back to the central theme, flute carries the lead for a few bars, fluttering and pitched to affect the middle of your person. You can feel the notes in your stomach. This tune is a major journey for the mind. Sixteen minutes into the song and I feel like I haven't taken a breath. Silence drops, bird begin to sing and the whispered line, "Nature sings the melody of love beyond the veil" is overlapped repeatedly and the original theme is then restated. The final lyric resolves the piece with the restoration of belief in hope. Very uplifting.

"Daydream" is a sad song of loss, a troubled troubadour. "Scratching the Black's" dark lyrics are reflected in a sparse acoustic accompaniment, bass chord heavy and bleak. "The blackness is like heroin." Vocally, Unruh sounds very like Guy Manning. "Supernova" is an instrumental with a great flute lead section, fingerpicked acoustic and a thick bass guitar tone. The tune has a Middle-Eastern vibe. A percussion solo breaks up the mood, with a combination of drum kit and hand percussions. "Distilling the Mystery" is a great tune to sing along to. A strong vocal melody, hook filled and memorable. "Learn to Love the Rain" is another melancholy piece, soft and lyrically philosophic.

"Lotus Victorius" is probably my favorite single piece from this release. It's everything I like in an instrumental. Swirling interplay between the lead instruments, a quirky rhythm pattern, solid, thick bass lines and chunky guitar chording, loads of melody, up beat and toe tappingly interesting. I really dig the violin tone here.

I would recommend this album to lovers of songcraft itself. Unruh's plays progressive folk with an emphasis on the singer-songwriter lyricism of a story-teller or philosopher

Dan Bobrowski | 4/5 |


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