Delicate Steve’s sophomore album, Positive Force, continues in the path of guitar-centric instrumentals, pitch-shifting melodies and touching composition–this time with more layers than his debut album Wondervisions.
Delicate Steve, also known by his birth name Steve Marion, is an oddity. Last year he broke the scene, not with his music necessarily, but with a press release sent to publishers entitled “The critics unilaterally concur: Delicate Steve is a band who creates music.” How could anyone pass that up? Of the many publishers that received the bio, NPR bit the hook and found themselves with more questions than answers. But with a little digging they came to this conclusion: Yale Evelev of Luka Bop records recruited Chuck Klosterman, formerly of Spin Magazine, to write a fake bio for Delicate Steve without even talking to Delicate Steve, or listening to the album. Weird, right? Well it worked and it was largely attributable to Wondervisions introduction to the music scene. The rest was easy, they might say, because immaculate musicianship needs only an audience.
Now imagine this–Delicate Steve is as weird as the circumstances of his inclusion to popularity. You would think that all the sounds that could be done with a guitar has been done. But Delicate Steve seems to sing with this instrument like blues musicians used to do–and still do reference when referring to the pinnacle of being a true blues guitarist. But, it’s not the blues Delicate Steve is singing. It’s something else entirely. Like his debut album, Positive Forces is mostly wordless. The track “Two Lovers” does repeat the phrase “Two Lovers,” as though they were spoken through a last dying breath. So, you might say these tracks are love songs, positive and optimistic yet simultaneously melancholic. Delicate Steve sings happy blues and the six strings on a Fender Telecaster are his vocal chords. Any trace of true vocals leave clues for meaning, but really, you don’t need to go digging for that to feel what this music is all about. It’s what fun sounds like.
Every second of the three-minute “Afria Talks To You” is worth diving into Positive Force. This track is the perfect formula for melodic guitar, synth overtones and hooks–no words necessary. And that’s the essences of this album: the music is so beautiful that words would only get in the way, crowd the kitchen and bring down the bandstand under the weight of too much.
Positive Force is an affable treat for those interested in weird, melodic instrumental albums that only exist in the spaces in between genres, where so often, artists slide between the walls only to be rediscovered years later after we tear down the house that mainstream built. Don’t let that happen to Delicate Steve. Experience the album now and boast your discovery years later while everyone else is scraping to track down an original vintage vinyl in perfect condition.