Steve Schillinger has been singing, playing guitar and writing songs since 1998 but only recently released his album called Sketches. It actually is a very appropriate title for the album in that a lot of the songs kind of feel like that. Mostly in part due to the quality of the album, which makes it sound more like a demo than a polished, professional recording. Although the acoustic guitar sounded tinny and his vocals were in desperate need of compression the songwriting usually shines through. The songs, while well written, lack much diversity. All the songs feature just his voice and acoustic guitar throughout the six tracks on the album and I would be lying if by the fourth song I was hoping for a little something like a bass, harmonica or piano to help me keep my attention through the album. The songs are all melancholy, which makes it an even harder to through in one sitting.
The album opens with “My Heart Belongs To You,” which is one of the highlights amongst the batch. His voice sounds good in the mix and even reminded me a bit of Canada's favorite folk singer Gordon Lightfoot in a good way. A solid vocal melody carries the song. “Easy Smile” suffers from production issues. His guitar has almost no mid range or low end and his vocals have too much reverb on them. Besides that it’s a pretty decent song. Similar Issues surface with “Chance Encounter” although I did enjoy the vocal harmonies.
On “I Gotta Go” the vocals sound like they are separated from the guitar. It sounds as if he is singing right into the microphone leaving no room for the vocals to naturally compress from the air. Schillinger lays on the chorus effect for “Broken Hearts.” The closer is a good tune and another highlight amongst the batch.
Overall, Schillenger is talented but the production is so poor it holds back the album from finding its potential. I would love to hear these songs find a better home. Schillenger may want to consider re-recording these songs with a professional engineer and even adding some additional instrumentation.
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