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Steve Reno
©2010 Stone Face Records
Review by Lucky Boyd


Once in a while, we are graced with an album of anti-formula poetry and prose that redefines for a moment all we know of being a singer/songwriter.  Each year brings countless albums that contain good writing, flawless performances, and excellent production.  But some singer/songwriters do all the thinking for you and all you have to do is listen and experience whatever emotional reaction the writer intended for you.  It’s refreshing when songs come along that require the listener to be engaged in their own level of interpretation.  Steve Reno assembles a good number of such tunes on SOFT SHOULDERS while entertaining in a style that is as much musical as lyrical.  Reno’s finger-picking delivery is almost Townes-like in many places as is his occasional vocal style.  At the production helm is fellow MTM mate and Texas Music Award recipient Mark Zeus.  Zeus’ own performance style is artistic and frequently irreverent with respect to glitz and polished recordings, and that crisp fidelity can be heard in his influences on the record.  Zeus captures Reno in his raw performance state and augments the music with sound arrangements featuring a stellar list of familiar faces.  Randy Wall, Wayne Wilkerson, Otis Futhermucker, Kristen Jensen, and Zeus himself are the core of the recording ensemble, with appearances by Bonnie and Charlie Schultz.  Intellectual ballads abound on the album, but there are a few that don’t require thought; just sit back and enjoy.  The gem of the album is “Just A Bum” which will not only bring a smile, but cause some cultural thought provocation as well.  I think I was able to get into Reno’s influence process for most of the songs.  “Range Of Light” stumped me for a little at first, but then I figured it was just a glorified love song and that made it all okay.  Reno is not a newcomer to music, or to Texas, but as a newbie to modern day recording, there is some room for maturation for Steve.  While this album will forever be touted as Reno’s artist and introspective release, it will garner him some attention with fellow songwriters, and those collaborations will result in a release that will shadow his peers.  Reno has a solid foundation to build upon and his musical future is certain to be a triumphant tower.

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Steve Reno