Steve Von Till - A Grave is a Grim Horse

Album: A Grave is a Grim Horse
Artist: Steve Von Till
Released: 2008
Rating: 4/5

When it comes to solo albums my feeling has always been this. If you feel you must venture off to do your own thing it had better have nothing alike with your original band, otherwise what is the point. Thankfully this is not one of those solo albums. Instead it an excellent Folk/Country album. When I think of Neurosis virtuosity is not what comes to mind. The words that come to my mind are feeling and mood. Steve Von Till latest has that in spades.

This is an album that is made up of seven original songs and four covers. Yet he is able to make them all his own. It’s an album that is heavily influenced by artist such as Johnny Cash, and Nick Drake (who’s song he covers). This is sparse instrumentation with clear vocals. He does what any good singer/songwriter does on an album. He makes you feel as though he is singing just for you. While many of the songs may be personal, such as Valley of the Moon that is inspired by Jack London and dedicated to his wife, they still feel universal in meaning. None more so than the song, The Acre. Now I must admit lyrics are not important to me. Most of what people say in song is their idea of poetry. But the lyrics for The Acre, more importantly the chorus, are just that. “You must work with the acre you are given, and read the signs of your day”. For me truer words have never been spoken. Simple yet affective.

The four covers on this album work well on the record. Artists such as Nick Drake, Mickey Newberry, Townes Van Zandt, and Lyle Lovett are all given the Von Till touch. What he does with these covers is excellent. He does the thing I love. He makes you want to hear the originals. Not because his are so bad, but because you want to see how well he did them. The only real problem I have with this album is its length. Eleven songs 48 minutes. Not bad on paper, but because of the pacing of these songs and the melancholy way they are preformed, the album tends to drag towards the end. Thankfully in this day of I pods and shuffles you are able to listen to the album any way you like and can listen to some of the song at the end first.

All in all this is an album that really appeals to me. Had there been less covers my score may have been higher. But I can’t give full credit to the person who didn’t write it. As a major fan of Johnny Cash this style of country/folk is defiantly in my wheelhouse. Till’s voice is so big in the mix he makes you feel his word and understand their meaning. Not only for him. But perhaps even for yourself.