As Steve says “live is what happens in a space…in a moment” but he produces a damn good approximation on his mini-album Alone In The Dark. Its only fault is that it’s too short – just eight tracks – but we have to live with that.
With the exception of the closing ‘We Shall Overcome’, an impromptu recording featuring Devon & Somerset Street Choirs, this is Steve taken as far back to basics as it’s possible to get; just one voice and one guitar. He opens the set with the impossibly poignant ‘Friends & Fathers’, the story of a man broken by war and the effect on his family. If this song doesn’t bring a tear to your eye you have no heart.
Politics is never too far from Steve’s writing but, by and large, he sticks to the less strident and more subtle songs. It’s tempting to say that ‘Back To The Beginning’, from his first album, represents the naïve thinking of a young man but its themes recur throughout Steve’s work and then you remember that he was forty when it was released. Both ‘The Parable Of Intent’ and ‘Matches In The Wind’ expound the idea that we should all do our bit, however small. The former turns into a bit of a rant towards the end and that’s OK as it leads into the powerful ‘I Spat Fire’ which contrasts with the delicate, fingerpicked ‘Me & The Silence’ and the upbeat ‘Creation Is Laughing’ which is a sort of “sod the lot of you” song.
The closing ‘Matches In The Wind’ really encapsulates Steve’s philosophy and is one of his very best songs. It is centred on a simple image and both the difficulty of and the importance of being out there, doing something. Alone In The Dark will only be available at Steve’s gigs and on-line and if you don’t have his three studio albums go there to purchase those, too.
Artist’s website: www.stevepledger.co.uk
‘Friends & Fathers’ – live: