Thursday, June 27, 2019

New Music Revue: Steven Bowers delivers decent but flawed fifth album

June 12, 2019 by Fred Cameron, contributing writer

Steven Bowers
Elk Island Park
(New Pony Music)

After a seven-year wait, Newfoundlander Steven Bowers—who now calls Victoria home—has released his fifth LP, Elk Island Park. Co-produced by Juno-winning producer Colin Stewart, Bowers’ latest effort picks up right where he left off with his last album, 2012’s Beothuk Words.

Elk Island Park offers a collection of well-crafted, melodic stories, reminiscent of the works of David Gray and Damien Rice but with a distinctly Canadian feel. The band is tight, led by clean electric guitar, but Bowers’ beautiful voice is the centrepiece.

There are several songs that stand out, including “Ben and Jesse Running” and the bittersweet “Bad Friend,” which expresses the challenges of maintaining a relationship through addiction recovery. 

Elk Island Park is a good album from start to finish, but it isn’t without flaws. There were some questionable mixing choices—for example, the drums are too loud and seem out of place on a few tracks. The overall energy on the record is probably better suited for an outdoor concert, so, as good as it is, it likely won’t be on your playlist a year from now.

Still, there’s plenty to enjoy here.Bowers’ vocals are the driving force on this album, but it is really his storytelling that you’ll remember. The detail and imagery connect the listener emotionally on a level that is rarely achieved.

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