A master craftsman of moving, melodic rock music returns from a lengthy hiatus with an immaculately crafted collection of songs, curated from years of writing songs while inactive. This album is ‘Born’, and its craftsman is Steve Edwards. Consistent and consistently solid are two things that can easily describe this album, Edwards is a focused writer whose writing style stays unchanged throughout this album, lending it an air of cohesiveness which in turn stitches the 10 songs together, making them easy to sit through, spending 40 minutes being engulfed by the music, it helps also that the songs are mostly drop dead gorgeous.

Steve Edwards, for those of you who don’t know, is a New Zealand born-and-raised musician. He’s been at it since the mid-90s, with a number of bands after he moved to the UK. A strike of luck befallen him when One By One, his solo song, arrived by chance to the ears of a BBC Radio 2 producer, who fell in love with it and went on to air it for weeks, giving it massive traffic and giving Steve a ton of success and attention that he readily deserved. The crazy story of Edwards’s life only kept going from that point. Returning to New Zealand, quitting music, making a family, running businesses, falling to the booze, quitting it, getting the band back together, and eventually making this album, after decades of rest. 

Happysad is as good a starter as any. A melodic stunner, with solid, active performances across the board, the board being the classic rock music instrumentation ensemble, Guitars, Bass, Drums and Keys. The slow, lulling tempo that persists throughout the album allows the songs to grow into storytellers, ballads, and dramas easily. Steve’s vocals and lyrics play elegantly to that point, choosing to sing of personal endeavors and stories, aimed at people who have lived and have seen things, like he did. The formula remains largely unchanged throughout the album. I’ll Take the Moon is a lyrical thing of beauty. With metaphors to heartfelt questions, nods to pop classics and dense ideas. It’s all aided by a massive sounding chord progression, magical melodies and a soaringly emotional vocal delivery. Fallen might be the most “Rock” song on the album, with hard-hitting beats and a somber, minor chord progression, distorted electric guitar melody that moonlights as a solo and a dynamic vocal part that reaches impressive highs. Piece Of Me sees Steve channeling happy rock. A sweet composition, strongly positive lyrics and a heartfelt singing melody, with a slow tempo and a clean guitar-based arrangement.

One of the unquestionable highlights is Colour of Blood. a slow burner that’ll be just as adequately danced to in a wedding as it would be finishing a fiery live show. A slow ballad, with intense lyrics and a stunning vocal part from Edwards, with lush vocal layering and rich composition. Break might just take the spot for my favorite cut from this album. A dazzling synth arpeggio acts as the backbone for this gorgeous piece. Piano chords, fretless bass, and massive drums that play ornamental toms. The rhythm is entirely internal, not instruments take the stage to strictly lay down a rhythm track, but the feel is tight, solid and consistent, and there’s no need to mention Steve’s vocals at this point, having been this strong throughout the record, this song is no exception. The closer is a welcome change of pace from ‘Break’, the penultimate track. Fall From Grace recalls a personal occasion for Steve Edwards, the day he confronted himself with his alcohol consumption issues and decided to regain control over this side of his life. A personal song with minimal instrumentation that puts the singer and his story in the forefront. The arrangement, while slightly minimal, is beautiful, and features a fantastic solo in its last couple of minutes. 

A striking, eloquent, and charming collection of songs. Steve’s songwriting is a joy to the senses. His vocal talent is immense, his band is gifted, and their producer is tasteful. A whole meal on our hands today and one that we, sincerely, thought ended too soon.