STYLUSBOY – Routes (Tortoise Recordings)

RoutesAlthough Coventry singer-songwriter Steve Jones released the Out Upon The Ocean EP in May, it’s been six years since his last studio album, Hospitality For Hope, so, again working with Nizlopi’s John Parker on double bass, Routes is a welcome return for his lo-fi folk.

It opens with ‘Embrace The View’, one of two tracks that featured on the EP in live versions, Greg Schofield on keys with Destroyers drummer Tim Bowes holding down the walking beat on a number about being in the moment and embracing life as it comes and looking to the horizon rather than behind. A long-established live favourite, the other is the melancholic five-minute slow waltz ‘For The Souls of My Brothers’, a gospel-tinted song of loss based on his own family history and set to the backdrop of the Coventry Blitz during which his great grandfather worked as a fireman.

The EP’s title track is sandwiched in-between, jauntily tracing a similar thematic path to the first with Wes Finch on electric guitar who also appears on the shuffling drums and choppy rhythmed love song ‘All The Details’, co-writer Jess Morgan on harmonies (elsewhere courtesy of Holly Hewitt). There’s a rockier, bluesy feel to ‘Find Your Gold’ about not spending your life like a covered up portrait that no one sees, but then it’s stripped back down again for the touching acoustic fingerpicked reflective ‘Keep You’ with its theme of memory and constancy. Further fingerpicking can be heard on ‘Open The Door’, an equally uncluttered looking for the sunshine after the rain number that shows the fine harmonies to perfection.

Taking the pace up, Parker’s double bass gets the spotlight on the ‘Ride This Storm’, a number which suggests Paul Simon’s ‘Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes’ meeting The Be Good Tanyas’ ‘Littlest Birds’ before the album dives into melancholy for the metaphorical ‘Shelter The Light’, a memory of childhood and a father and his young son’s journey home after a hard day’s work number that builds to a big instrumental finale.

Routes ends back on a pastoral folksy note with ‘This Is Where I Belong’, a fingerpicked declaration of finding an anchor and a sense of self as he sings “I’ve come home to hold your hand, stand with you, this is where I belong”, an epiphany that perfectly captures the thread and warmth of the journey and the album.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website:

‘Out On The Ocean’ – official video:

Stylusboy announces his second handmade album

Photograph by Redwood Photography

Stylusboy, Coventry singer-songwriter Steve Jones, creates indie folk music steeped in warm-hearted melodies and heartfelt lyrics. Influenced by cult contemporary songwriters like Damien Rice and Elliot Smith as well as classic performers such as Nick Drake and Neil Young. Stylusboy’s songs have been described as ‘absolutely brilliant’ by BBC Radio 2’s Justine Greene.

On 27th September 2019 Stylusboy’s second album Routes is released through his own label, Tortoise Recordings, on handmade CD and on all major digital platforms through AWAL Distribution. The self produced album is a collection of songs inspired by love, loss, family and pressing on through the difficult times. The musical talents of double bass genius John Parker (Nizlopi, Ben Walker, Will Pound), sort after drummer Tim Bowes (The Destroyers), critically acclaimed singer songwriter Wes Finch on electric guitar and blues starlet Holly Hewitt on harmonies create a warm musical backdrop to Steve’s songwriting. Long time friend and renowned songwriter Jess Morgan has co-written one of the ten songs on Routes.

Since the release of his critically acclaimed debut album Hospitality For Hope in 2015, Stylusboy has continued to drive his songwriting and creativity with the release of several EPs as well as a live album recorded in a manor house deep in the Derbyshire countryside. Steve’s fine art background inspires the fact that all of his releases have unique handmade sleeves lovingly made by Steve himself, all part of the Stylusboy ‘handmade indie folk’ style.

Stylusboy’s sound of ‘arresting melodies and poignant lyrics’ (Right Chord Music) has received praise and accolades from the likes of Acoustic Magazine, R2 Magazine, For Folks Sake, God is in the TV as well as BBC Introducing, 6Music, Xfm and Amazing Radio. Champion of independent music, Tom Robinson from BBC 6 Music, has described Stylusboy as:

“A leading light among today’s new generation of DIY digital troubadours”

Whilst cult website God is in the TV said:

“A sound that continues to explore and advance the relationship between more traditional folk and popular music.”

Performing all over the UK including sell out shows at Green Note in London and Warwick Arts Centre in his home city of Coventry, Stylusboy is an enchanting live performer. He has supported the likes of John Smith, Newton Faulkner, Danny and the Champions of the World, Grant-Lee Philipps, Megson and Lucy Ward. As befitting a modern day troubadour he’s performed one-to-one shows for Emily Barker’s Folk in a Box and BBC Coventry and Warwickshire’s All the Wrong Music in all the Right Places as well as pioneering online gigs (well before Facebook live was a thing) to audiences all around the world and has played numerous house gigs. Stylusboy has shared his intimate folk music at festivals such as the BBC Introducing Stage at Wychwood Festival, Warwick Folk Festival, Mosley Folk Festival and Greenbelt Festival. The lead track from his second release Whole Picture EP became a number 1 in Indonesia with the EP later becoming ‘EP Of The Year’ on music blog This Is A Popscene. Earlier in 2019 Steve was commissioned by Coventry City of Culture 2021 to create a piece of work by one of the Universal Human Rights.

Routes is released on 27th September 2019 through Stylusboy’s own label Tortoise Recordings and via AWAL digital distribution.

Artist’s website:

A live oldie – ‘Out Upon The Ocean’: