YOPE is Nick Andrew Staver's fourth album release. Staver is a full time independent musician who does everything on his own from performance to production. YOPE puts a heavy focus on acoustic, steel blues. He's been in the music business for over 15 years as a full time touring professional. With this album I can tell he really dug in deep with his influences for this album and seems very dedicated to his sound born from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.
One of the big strengths with Staver is his obvious love and vast knowledge for the blue genre. Right off the bat with “Toulouse St. Blues,” it sounded like he was writing a love letter to all the music and influences he holds dear. There is a blend of Americana, and folk wrapped around the rock solid blues core of the album. I feel like this noticeable love comes from his long running career; his experience is noted in the music. Another benefit to Staver is his guitar skills. Again, experience plays a factor. His knack for soulful riffs is uncanny. It's so satisfying to hear. Overall, in regards to the music, you are in the hands of a veteran and it's wonderful.
There were a couple of issues I struggled with. His vocal style is strained, not unlike Joe Cocker, which I can see a lot of people appreciating but just wasn’t my personal taste. He inflects his lyrics with a gruff and subversive pull. There were times felt the vocals and music were at odds with each other. I appreciated his lyrics, which are deeply personal and left open ended to be accessible to anyone. I can also appreciate that he put a lot of work and thought into how he decided to deliver his words. It's intentional and full of passion and that's something I can always respect.
I respect and admire Staver for being his own producer and doing everything on his lonesome. In all honesty the album does not sound bad in term of the production but there were some minor issues along the way. Probably because when it comes to those incredible guitar skills, I want to make sure I don't miss anything.
There are things I know for sure when it comes to Staver and YOPE. One, Staver knows his way around a guitar and could compete with the best of 'em in the industry, no doubt. He's also a fine storyteller who weaves magic around a notion or thought with little effort. I know that Staver is passionate and a learned blues fan. I would love to hear what's next if only to see what else he can do with those strings.
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