Driven by his impactful and deeply emotional low voice that should continue to earn favorable comparisons to those of country legends like George Jones, Charlie Rich and Conway Twitty, Steve Power brings a colorful and storied, well-traveled history to his fifth and latest album, The Earl Sessions. The award winning, Austin based Americana singer-songwriter’s been in the game over five decades, performing everywhere from brothels to stadiums on two continents and two islands.
Along the way, he released two EPs and four albums. Despite this unique long resume, today’s average country music fan could be forgiven for not knowing him because there’s only one previous project (the 2006 LP The Journey) on streaming. No matter, because from the rollicking, foot stomping and feel good romance “You Were Meant For Me” through the redemptive gospel-blues ballad closer “Bathing in White Light,” Power presents a dynamic earful of nine classic styled country songs perfect for those who love the old school sounds that came before flashy electric guitars, pop/rock and bro country became the mainstream vibe of the genre.
Power’s unique and varied vocal styles make this seem like a throwback record that could have been recorded back in the heyday of Sun Records. He penned the aforementioned originals, along with the whimsical, freewheeling, Jerry Lee Lewis-styled piano romp “Crazy in Love” and its 180 degree opposite “Follow the Wind,” a poignant ballad about a Vietnam vets’ lifelong quest for personal freedom,” showcasing his skills for humor as well as heartfelt storytelling. His voice sounds a bit like lower end Roy Orbison on the bluesy rock heartbreaker “You Don’t Know,” which features extra lyrics by Power.
It’s testament to his own multi-faceted songwriting prowess that these gems fit comfortably alongside thoughtful fresh renditions of two George Jones tunes (including the legend’s deeply autobiographical “Choices” and feisty, witty and metaphor infused “Golden Ring”) and others originally written and recorded by John Prine (the much covered, hard hitting eco-conscious “Paradise” from Prines debut album) and Rodney Crowell (the regret filled yet hopeful love ballad “Till I Gain Control Again”).
Besides Powers’ spirited and deeply felt performances, props must be given to producer (and Hammond B-3 player) Ron D’Argentino and top notch ensemble of guitarist Caspar Rawls, upright bassist Chris Crepps, fiddler Warren Hood, drummer Pete “The Beat” Langhans, guitarist Phil Hurley and legendary keyboard great Earl Poole Ball (Johnny Cash, The Byrds, Graham Parsons), for whom Power named this memorable and soulful recording.