Steve Geroe brings us his acoustic sound from Melbourne, Australia. Spirit Flame is a bare bones folk album that is packed with great traditional sounds. For the most part, it’s just Geroe and his guitar utilizing traditional picking techniques. You could pluck this album right out of the ’60s folk movement which is where he takes a lot of inspiration from.
This music is undoubtedly pretty. Geroe is one hell of a picker; he brings an effortlessness to his music with the fluttering riffs. Geroe listed for us a great deal of influences, however his aesthetic was very unified. He stuck very close to a small set of rhythms and time signatures. Unfortunately, the problem with that for me is it can get boring due to the lack of diversity in the songs.
There were a couple of tracks done in different languages which was a refreshing choice. His lyrics are metaphorical and on the vague, enigmatic side which he delivers in a rambling sort of manner. He seems to have a cadence that he really enjoys when delivering his lyrics and it seems to dictate the pace throughout the album. Again, the album has a lovely, traditional feel to it, and the music is well executed. When there’s only a voice and a guitar it can be very easy to get yourself into a rut. There aren’t a lot of sounds to make yourself stand out so I find time and movement are key.
When I say bare bones, I mean it in every sense. Right down to the audio production there is not a whole lot of muss and fuss. I do feel that a little more attention and polish on the audio could have boosted the listener’s attention to Geroe’s skills. I also find that the audio treatment dated his work. The album has a timeless sound and I understand the instinct to keep it as raw as possible. However, I feel it’s a waste to not utilize what technology offers to your advantage.
There are great audio touches that could have been done here to keep the music sounding untouched while bringing forward a richness to his strengths. I feel Geroe needs a signature, again, that’s hard for any artist to do with just a voice and a guitar. While the music is good, it does sound similar to lots of things that I’ve heard from both big name and indie artists. I know, there’s a ton of music being made every day and people will inevitably find common threads, but that’s the new challenge that comes with digital age of music.
I think Geroe clearly has a passion for his work and for folk music in general. I personally would love to hear him with more collaborators at his side. He has such a strong voice with his guitar. I think more instruments in his setup would also be really interesting to hear. His skills could easily translate into several genres. Sometimes working with others is the best way to shake up your creative process. I wish Geroe luck, the music is lovely, it just needs something only he can bring.
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