Independent veteran singer-songwriter Steve Tilston is scheduled to release his latest album Such Times Friday through Riverboat Records. Its release will come on the 50th anniversary of the release of his debut album An Acoustic Confusion (1971). The 15-song record is an interesting presentation whose mix of folk and blues arrangements and lyrical themes will appeal to a wide range of audiences. The album’s title track, which comes almost halfway through the album’s 64-minute run time, is just one example of what makes the album so interesting. It will be discussed shortly. The album’s bluesy/rockabilly penultimate composition, ‘My Mystery Train’ is another way in which the album’s collective content comes together to make the album worth hearing. ‘Daylight Rising,’ which opens the album, is yet another example of how the album’s collective content comes together to make for an interesting listen. When it is considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, noted and not, the whole makes the record an intriguing work in that folk and blues fans alike will find entertaining and engaging.
Steve Tilston’s forthcoming album Such Times – his 18th album — is a presentation that many audiences will find a welcome return and equally positive introduction to Tilston’s body of work. That is proven collectively through the album’s musical and lyrical content. That is proven to some point in the album’s title track. The nearly four-and-a-half minute composition is just one of the songs featured in this record that serves to support the noted statements. The song’s musical arrangement is a simple composition. That should be noted right off the bat. It features just Tilston singing and picking his guitar as he sings. At some points, his performance conjures thoughts of Eric Clapton and others of The Moody Blues front man Justin Hayward. That pairing of sounds, together with the Renaissance type vibe that the flute brings to the mix, makes for even more engagement and entertainment. That musical whole makes for plenty of entertainment and engagement in its own right. Together with the song’s lyrical content, the whole there makes for even more appeal.
The lyrical content featured in ‘Such Times’ comes across as a commentary about the state of the world. Given it is hardly the first time any artist has taken that familiar lyrical path. It is a unique take on that familiar theme, though. Tilston opens the song, singing, “What comes down/From hallowed halls/The day is night/Now the day is night…wrong is right/Now wrong is right/Silver tongues sing their siren chill…shivered words…The hungry child/Whispers…oh to live in such times as these.” Some of the lyrics in this verse are difficult to decipher sans a lyrics sheet to reference. That aside, enough is still understandable enough that the general message can be interpreted. He is making a statement here about everything that is going on. His use of metaphorical language plays into that statement well enough here to make that evident. He continues in the song’s second verse, “Words cascade like a poison rain/Wade away through the light/Even though it’s all too plain/Turn our eye/We must deny our eyes/The self serve righteous use false charm/To oil the wheels and the grease the bar/At the temple gates/The homeless freeze/Oh to live in such times as these.” If the noted message in this song was not clear enough already in the song’s lead verse, then this second verse makes the theme crystal clear. He even goes so far as to note in the song’s third verse, “I can remember/A landscape much fairer” before continuing to comment on how ne’er do wells were not as prominent. It all comes together to make for an original approach to an all too familiar lyrical topic. When these statements are made alongside the bittersweet folk/Celtic style musical arrangement, the whole becomes a strong example of what makes the album worth hearing. It is just one of the album’s most notable works. ‘My Mystery Train’ does its own part to show the album’s interest.
‘My Mystery Train,’ which is essentially a cover of Junior Parker’s original, takes a musical path that is completely opposite of that of the album’s title track. This composition lends itself more to comparisons to the country/rockabilly style songs of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and even perhaps the greatest country bluesman of all time, Jimmie Rodgers. Yes, the brakeman himself. The bluesy/country twang in the song, including in Tilston’s own vocal delivery makes this song an assured hit. That is just one part of the song that throws back to the classic country blues songs of days long gone. The song’s lyrical content does much the same, adding to the appeal here.
Tilston sings in the song’s lead verse, “The train that rumbled/All through my younger days/Way off in the distance/All through my younger days/One day that train might come carry me away.” If that is not vintage country blues, it is not clear what is, then. Tilston continues in the song’s second verse, “There’s a man in the station/Got a pad/And he’s takin’ down names/Well he’s there on the platform/And he’s takin’ down names/Well he knows when my train’s gonna come/But he just ain’t sayin’/I’m waiting for that mystery train/I’m just waiting for my mystery train.” The full on country blues bridge that follows that verse and chorus makes the strong even more enjoyment. He closes out the song singing, “There’s a train and a river/Runnin’ side-by-side/Train and reflection/Runnin’ side-by-side/I’m gonna make that connection/Take that train and ride.” Once more, this is classic country blues all the way. It’s a simple song about someone just jumping a train and taking it wherever it may go. This is a classic theme from the noted genre, and is just as entertaining to hear Tilston sing about today as when it was sung by so many who have come before him. It is just one more example of what makes this record so worth hearing. ‘Daylight Rising,’ the album’s opener, is one more example of the interest that Tilston’s new album generates.
‘Daylight Rising’ presents audiences with another unique musical style, changing things up even more for listeners. This nearly four-and-a-half minute opus presents a sort of soulful country/folk style composition. The upbeat composition is just as much unlike the other two songs already addressed here as they are from the rest of the album’s entries. It is a bright, uplifting work that is equal parts strong opener for the album and standalone musical composition. The joy that the song’s musical arrangement brings listeners pairs with the song’s equally uplifting lyrical theme to make the song even more notable.
The lyrical theme featured in ‘Daylight Rising’ is an uplifting statement that reminds listeners that things will get better. Tilston points that out right from the song’s outset as he sings, “Daylight/Will come rising/With a long night/A last goodbye/Daylight/Will come risin’/And an ill wind will lay down tonight/There will come a time to open wide the windows/get u out the bed and weave across the floor/Leave behind the shadows/Take your aching bones outside the door/Daylight will come rising/Bid the long night a last goodbye.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “There will come a time to shun all the false faces…Knowing that their way was always wrong. There is a section in this verse that is slightly difficult to decipher without a lyrics sheet, but that is beside the point. The fact of the matter is that enough is understandable here to know for certain that this song is in fact meant to lift up listeners. It succeeds in that goal, too. Everyone needs that occasional reminder that things will in fact get better, and this song does just that, and does so in impressive fashion. When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album proves itself a presentation that is one of this year’s sleeper hits.
Steve Tilston’s latest full-length studio recording Such Times is a surprising, unassuming record that is well worth hearing. That is proven through its musical arrangements and its lyrical themes. As shown here, the record features a respectable range of styles in its body. There is a touch of folk music, some blues, and even some country music. At times the genres stand alone and other others, they meld together. The whole of those arrangements makes the overall musical presentation reason enough to hear this record. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical content guarantee its own appeal. That is proven here, too. All things considered, the album will likely fly just below the mainstream radar, but deserves its own share of attention. It all comes together to make the album one of this year’s sure sleeper hits. Such Times is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records. More information on the album is available along with all of Steve Tilston’s latest news at https://stevetilston.com.
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