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grace and gratitude - new Steve Lawson CD

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by MKS, Jul 22, 2004.


  1. Hi.

    I'm lucky enough to have recieved my copy of Steve's new album "grace and gratitude" yesterday. It's a really amazing CD. Sonically it's his most "spacious" sounding album yet. I mean that from the point of view of the sounds he has wrung out of his basses, but also from the production point of view. There's an enormous canvas of sound at work on a lot of the tracks which is just amazing. It looks like Steve has enjoyed being able to use the full stereo field for his mix! When's the 5.1 surround sound mix coming out Steve? ;)

    The feel of the tracks ranges from the intimate - the title track "grace and gratitude" - to the slappy, funky "shizzle"; to the eery "the journey of a thousand miles". Many of the tracks aren't as immediately accessible as "Not dancing for chicken" but this isn't a "difficult" album by any means.

    My view is that this is Steve's "Selected ambient works Vol II". Those who know The Aphex Twin's work will know what I mean.

    Well worth a listen or four. If you haven't already, buy it now, because you'll get "Lessons learned from an aged feline, pt ii" which is just as good! Honestly, how Steve can afford just to give away this "extra" stuff for free just doesn't make economic sense! Bless 'im!

    Can you tell I liked it? :D
     
  2. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Can't wait for mine to arrive! I haven't actually got round to listening to any of the preview tracks Mr Lawson has posted but I'm familiar enough with what he does to be fairly sure that I'll like it (and that there will be a few surprises tucked away in there).

    Wulf
     
  3. ironmaidenisgod

    ironmaidenisgod

    May 20, 2004
    I heard the samples and have repeatedly mentioned how good they are.Can't wait to get my hands on the record. :hyper:
     
  4. Detritus

    Detritus

    Aug 18, 2003
    Hampshire
    Haven't received my copy yet, either. What a pain in the butt waiting is! Come on, Steve, get those postmen working. But from the samples I have heard it will be worth the wait.
     
  5. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    I recieved the email form Steve saying that the cd would be delivered soon on my birthday. So two days after my birthday I get both Grace and Gratitude and the bonus cd (signed this time, thank god.) Shall I share my longwinded thoughts, hmmm yeah why not its what i'm here for.

    For starters the asthetics (looks) of the album are great I really like the picture on the front cover, although be wary Steve has dotted random pictures of him self around the cover, they might give you a bit of a shock :D. Theres a little bit of information about the process and the concept of the album, including the equipment used ('two steve lawson signature hands'??? Be real Steve we all know you just borrow Michael's)

    Track 1: Grace and Gratitude - This is the title track and I must say a fantastically musical piece, it's by far my favourite track of not only this album but all of them. I played this song to my friend who's a massive heavy metal fan and even she liked it, She thought it really spoke. To me it's an excellent opener for this album, it sets a mood if you know what I mean. Steve fretless is really singing here if you've ever wondered what a fretless should sound like here it is, there is a real vocal quality to this track but its also open to interpretation, I find my self singing along with random words explaining how i'm feeling when ever I listen to it and no matter what mood i'm in this song always seems to explain it.

    Track 2: The Journey of a Thousand Miles... - This track is more ambiancy and very spacial, and almost an opposite to track 1 as this sounds nothing like either a fretted or fretless bass, in a good way though, the song follows a natural direction that is very easy to follow and understand. This means that the song feels good even though it may sound quite strange. Does that make sense? What i'm trying to say is a wierd as it may sound just close your eyes and it all seems to make sense.

    Track 3: The Kindness of Strangers - This track moves away from the ambiance of track 2 but it's very similar to Steves work in the past, a nice background loop that is built up and then solo'd over the top. When you hear it you know it's Steve, it just has his sound all over it. The track seems to constantly change, the soloing continues but ebowesk swells fade in and out and then a new layer forms and becomes the main attraction to the piece. The looping on this is incredable, it's seemless, I can't break it down at all this truly is music not just a song.

    Track 4: Despite My Worst Intentions - We move on to my 2nd favourite track of this record. From the title you kind of expect a darker meaning and the song does begin with a more somber feel, again it seems very simple but with me it just strikes a chord, the vocal qualities of this piece are again fantastic. With Steve you always feel sung to not played to. The piece picks up about half way through, the song feels like a conversatiuon and only when you get half way thorugh do both sindes appear and seem to comunicate with each other. I really love this tune.

    Track 5: The Space Between the Silence - Now after a few more vocal pieces we move to the ambiance side. These more ambiance pieces seem to break up the album quite well. They remind me of something used to clense your pallete during a five course meal. Again ask any one what instrument is used on this track and they'll say bass right after they've gone through every other instrument in the world.

    Track 6: Shizzle - It opens with a funky jazzy sorta guitar line, with a nicely filtered bass line underneith. The track is very easy to get into, but it doesn't open up till about 1:40 when a almost guitar like solo kicks in after a minutie or so this fades out and the song goes back to it more basic loops with small parts added here and there. At 4 mins you suddenly realise that Steve can actually play bass :D he opens the track into mega funky slap bass lines. It is truly amazing.

    Track 7: There but for the grace of god - Kind of an inbetween track not quite full on ambiance but not quite full on vocal qualities playing. This piece is very relaxed and is a good change of pace after track 6. There are some fantastic small fast runs in this piece but nothing crass and over the top just small bits of skill each time just in the right place. A really beautiful track.

    Track 8: You can't throw it away (there's no such thing as away) - Firstly what a great name for a track, the title alone makes you think (the album inlay kind of explains this concept.) This again is very angelic ambiance tune for the most part, with vocalish parts dotted through and through kind of telling a story over a beautiful background. This is a song that really takes you away from where you are at the moment.

    Track 9: What did I do to Deserve This? - Follows on great from track 8 (you might notice this on the album, it tells a story and if your not paying attention you will miss where one song begins and where another ends). I'm gonna leave this track open, buy the cd listen to it and you tell me what you think i'm enjoying it to much to spoil it for you with my thoughts and comments.

    Track 10: Smoke from burning steam - A nice ambiance ending for the whole album just leaves you thinking about the concept of the album. What should I be grateful for what do I feel has graced my life. Or maybe thats just me.

    P.S people the track list is added to the gracenote database so it's very very quick and easy to rip and put on your Ipod.

    Thanks Steve you've made my 20th birthday great with this release.
     
  6. ironmaidenisgod

    ironmaidenisgod

    May 20, 2004
    Thanks now you've ruined the surprise element. :scowl:

    Seriously though,great review. :) You are spot on about the title track.It's one of the most beautiful pieces of music.Ever. :bassist:

    Good work Steve.
     
  7. Detritus

    Detritus

    Aug 18, 2003
    Hampshire
    Grace & gratitude finally arrived in the post today. AND it was worth the wait! I believe this to be Steve’s most mature, integrated and best album to date. My thoughts on some of the tracks follow.

    I find myself disagreeing with MKS: I think this IS a very accessible album, more so than ‘Dancing’. If there is an accessibility issue here than I think it is to do with the depth of emotion Steve brings to his playing: this is no shallow, take it or leave it type of album. It grips you, albeit subtly, by the b*lls.

    GRACE AND GRATITUDE: Like Tayste this is my favourite, indeed Tayste has hit the nail on the head – Steve’s fretless bass really soars and sings in breathtaking fashion. If there is a more emotive and ‘hair on your neck tingling’ sound than fretless I have yet to hear it.

    THE JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES…: this has a very strong meditative feeling to it, for me. The opening sounds like those Tibetan chanting bowls (or whatever their proper names are): mantra like. I certainly felt like I was sitting in a Himalayan monastery with Buddhist monks, chanting away.

    DESPITE MY WORST INTENTIONS: Tayste is spot on again and I can add little to what he says, just that it's gorgeous.

    YOU CANT THROW IT AWAY (THERES NO SUCH THING AS AWAY): wow. This is the one that really got to me. I am not very good at thinking of labels for music. I guess as Tayste says this is ambient but be warned this is an intensely emotional track, especially with its dark and brooding ending. Indeed so emotionally overpowering was it, that when it ended, I had to pause the CD and go outside for a walk for 5-10 minutes. I am listening to it now as I type this and bit of me wants to turn it off, so emotionally powerful is it; I find it hard to bear. But the other bit of me wants that emotional depth (how often do you really get this sort of profundity?), hoping that it will be cathartic or that one of the other tracks will offer release. Aw – Sh*t Steve has just come in on the fretless. I have to stop.

    Buy this album, you won’t regret it.
     
  8. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Pah theres no surprise element with Steves music, you know its gonna be good.

    I hope the review has been very helpful to people, I got an e-mail back from an english bass website and they would like me to do an interview with Steve. So look out for that soon it will be just as long and boring as all my other posts.

    Still not had a chance to listen to the bonus cd but I suppose I can review that for you guys as well, but only cos I love ya.
     
  9. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Got it - at last! I guess that grace is being grateful to the postal service for delivering it safely even if it came very slowly. I haven't listened properly yet but have spun it in the background. For me, it was track nine - What Did I Do to Deserve This? - that caught my ear most but I'll listen more closely over the next few days.

    Wulf
     
  10. Yes! I have received this great CD! I really, really like it Steve.

    Thanks for shipping it out so fast. I think it arrived in a week. Not bad considering the journey it took.

    I even got an autograph...how cool is that?

    Suggestion: Buy it. You won't be disappointed.

    Chip
     
  11. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Pah I got Steve autograph 4 times and you know what IT'S DIFFERENT EACH TIME.

    You're lucky though I normally have to PM the hell out of him to get him to sign them. :bag:

    This is still by far the best Steve Lawson Cd ever. EVER!!!!!!
     
  12. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    As usual, this CD is musically very interesting to listen to. What is really amazing is that he records these tracks without using studio tricks. What you hear on the CD is what you'll hear when you see him live. I very much enjoy this new album and look forward to his next tour of California.

    BTW, I must say that the production quality of the CD is the finest yet. Steve obviously put much work into the creation of this CD and the end result shows it.
     
  13. I'm listening to "Lessons learned from an aged feline, pt II" and all I can say is that if you don't order Steve's new CD quickly you're missing out on some FANTASTIC extra stuff. It's good enough to make it as an album in its own right.

    STUNNING!

    GO TO IT. Buy the CD NOW!! You know you want to... ;)
     
  14. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    So far, I think I probably prefer "Lessons Learned (part II)" to the main album! Both are great though and I haven't listened enough to be able to qualify my opinion much further.

    I think Steve's distribution model is a really good one - low prices and a bonus for those who get orders in early. I hope it works as well for him as it does for me, as I'm very keen to see it continue!

    :D

    Wulf
     
  15. Skeld

    Skeld

    Feb 27, 2004
    Amiens, France
    I received the 5 cds yesterday. I have the last copy of Lessons learned from an aged feline, pt II" :p , but I haven't listened to it yet.

    The cds are really amazing, I like Steve's music a lot! Great songs, great bassplayer :bassist: :)

    Steve, you rock! :cool: ;)
     
  16. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Skeld,

    thanks very much for that, I'm really glad you're enjoying the CDs. The response to the new one has so far been unanimously good, for which I'm most grateful. :)

    STeve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  17. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Add my name to the list of fans of Grace and Gratitude -- it’s gorgeous!
     
  18. Steve,

    Been listening to this Grace and Gratitude CD. I really like it. Some of the tempos seem real slow and there is so much space between some of the notes (whick I think is really cool), very spacious!

    Did you use a click on all those tracks or did you just feel the mood of the timing?

    Chip
     
  19. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Chip,

    none of it was done to a click - the track that starts with the stereo delay line (The Space Between The Silence) obviously has a strict time reference in the delay itself, but other than that, it's all just played and looped. So the loop becomes the solid time reference as soon as it's in, but within the loop itself there's usually some ebb and flow in the timing, intentionally - one of the big problems facing people who use real time looping is how to keep a loop interesting, and varying the timing and phrasing somewhat throughout the loop leaves it a little less easy for the listener to map out on the first few times round, so it takes a while longer. It also makes it easy to phrase against the timing, and take a little longer to 'learn' the landscape of the loop in order to phrase exactly with it. All those things keep the track moving forward, at least, I hope they do... :)

    thanks, Chip - I'm really glad you're enjoying the CD!

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net