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Monday, May 09, 2011

CD Review: Kevin Steinman's "Pre-Existing Condition"

There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Kevin Steinman yet. But with the release of his new full-length CD Pre-Existing Condition, I have a feeling 2011 is going to be the year Steinman becomes much more of a household name. Produced by Andy Thompson (Jeremy Messersmith), Steinman made every effort with this record to work with some of the best musicians The Twin Cities had to offer. The roster includes Chris Koza, Linnea Mohn & Luke Anderson of Rogue Valley (is it any surprise Rogue Valley will join Steinman at his CD Release show 5/14 at the Fine Line?) Also featured are on the album Ben Kyle of Romantica, Alicia Wiley and Brianna Lane.

With debts to Paul Simon and Jack Johnson nationally, and Halloween, Alaska here in Minnesota, intimate and honest are two adjectives that come immediately to mind to describe Steinman’s songs. He has a distinctive ear for the vocal line, perhaps partly stemming from his extensive of experience as a singer in an a capella group right after college. Pre-Existing Condition is crisp, clear and knows what it’s trying to say. Its tight production and slow pop confidence give this album mainstream appeal. (“Just in Time” could easily slip in amongst the Coldplay on Cities 97.) But “Pop is not an evil word,” as Steinman said in a recent radio interview. To say your parents might like this record as much as you do is no backhanded compliment. It just might be true.

The simple arrangement of the first of 11 tracks on the disc, “Moonlight Navigators,” (listen on bandcamp) grabs you right away and sets the tone for what's to come. “Understanding Eyes,” is tightly-written Elvis Costello-esque pop. “Straight of Georgia” is a pretty finger-picked ballad reminiscent of Chris Koza, and I can easily imagine the edgy, minor key “I Look for You” playing over the final credits of a major motion picture. If I had to pick a single from the album it would be that one, but perhaps as icing on the cake, Steinman includes a new version of one of his earlier best songs, “Wish.”

(Watch the video for "Wish".)

Hear Pre-Existing Condition in its entirety at a CD listening party Tuesday, May 10th at Kings Wine Bar in Minneapolis (4555 Grand Avenue South in Minneapolis) at 9 p.m. (Steinman will also do a DJ set.) Then see Steinman perform live with his band at a CD Release Party at the Fine Line Music Cafe Saturday night, May 14th. The May 14th show is a duel CD release party with Farewell Milwaukee, also featuring Rogue Valley and Joey Ryan. Not to be missed.