Steven Norman Long is one of those singular composers out of San Francisco armed with an acoustic guitar and a whole lot of wisdom. He just released his latest CD entitled Message for the Masses in 2014. Long presents an original blender of sound mixing classic artists like Teddy Pendergrass, Sam Cooke, Arthur Cooley and Eddie Ford. On this CD expect highly original songwriting with some soulful vocals and harmonies. Long touches on many musical styles here, fusing several genres with in each song. This latest CD offering is a very uplifting 9 track CD that gleefully dances up and down the spectrum of modern-day vocal Jazz with hints of Americana-blues served up hot on the side with a dash of psychedelic modern dance. The CD Opens with the finger snapping title track and pulls out all the stops until the final track “Peace like a River”. The album as a whole pretty much hits on all cylinders but at times is what I would describe as joyous and folksy.
My favorite track “Message for the Masses” could even be a modern dance with some of the electronic rhythms. Some tracks like “Innocence” even have hit potential. Other songs sound like “Believe” and “Panhandler” combine accordion, Rhodes Piano and guitar. Despite all this I would file this CD under “B” for Blues. The music and impassioned vocal presence of Long present the perfect musical backdrop for just sitting back and jamming out or playing in the car. All songs just groove. While each track is similar within their own right, all pieces on this CD delivers unique, emotionally charged music that will satisfy pretty much any aficionado. Of particular note are the amazing, highly original, smooth as silk vocals from Long as he clearly holds nothing back. In many ways Long is a brilliant singer and composer, and what you hear/see is what you get – no farces. He delivers many solid yet soulful vocal performances within his own right. He does all this while retaining a masculine/feminine fullness that compliments the skillful array of sounds brought forward by his playing.
Tracks that stand out for me are: Innocence, Message for the Masses, Peace like a River.
To sum it up: I give the Steven Norman Long and enthusiastic four out of five stars and highly recommend this album to any fan of Jazz, Vocal Jazz, or Americana Blues. Grab yourself a copy of “Message for the Masses” and open your mind and hear to some fascinating songwriting by a very wise and talented artist known as Steven Norman Long. It definitely sets the standard for this genre, and Long should be a big hit with cult followers around Northern California for sure.
Locale: San Francisco, CA
Sounds Like: Teddy Pendergrass, Sam Cooke, Arthur Cooley, Eddie Ford
Final Rating: 4/5 Stars
Review by Amanda Westcott