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Steve Mahabir – Angel In Parkdale

Steve Mahabir’s Angel In Parkdale is something of a sprawling epic. With 16 tracks, it might at first appear cumbersome and unwieldy, but Mahabir’s delivery and construction leads the listener with ease through his songs. Opening with ‘Last Night I Had A Dream’, there is immediately a progressive feel which begins with a dark tone that unfolds to eventually release an electric, spluttering guitar part that stands out as if it is its own character in its own right. The blend of tones and styles is strong, with ‘Believe What You Want’ starting with distant, bell like chimes and a yearning voice, before giving way to a traditional country number. With its laid back lap steel notes and easy going guitar strums, it’s a calming song with a lullaby feel that then goes on to unload some arrestingly overdriven guitars and a gorgeous swirling organ. Things are taken up a notch on ‘Change Your Mind’, taking those familiar country tropes and really stirring them up to create a frenzy of excitement, while ‘Riding Cowboy’ puts some quirky percussion to good use underneath fun, parping brass that creates an off kilter feel that is exciting and atmospheric. The characteristic brass notes continue to ring out on ‘Watch Your Mouth’ acting as a confirming response to the track’s refrain. As an album, Angel In Parkdale manages to carefully balance a traditional country vibe with a huge, blustering rock sound. As a result, a particularly distinctive tone is created for Steve Mahabir’s own unique voice to run riot in like a huge sonic playground. ‘Can’t Stop’ shows this with clarity, as the guitars screech and squeal alongside the repeated mantra of “Leave me along”, while ‘Wild Woman’ really is a wild track with a deep bass rumble, wailing guitar notes and a classic rock organ that acts as a glue to keep everything from coming unstuck. Certainly, there is a consistency that runs through the album. While there are plenty of familiar codes and styles that will be immediately recognisable to any music lover, there is a playful experimental attitude which lifts up the record and allows itself to be scrutinised under the light without coming out for the worse. To be sure, the scraping bleep of ‘Hope I.C.U.’ succeeds in creating a sense of those medical machines that bark out their unrelenting tones, always sitting somewhere between hope and despair when the final outcome of life remains to be decided. It’s on the album’s closing track, ‘Exit To The Stars’, where all those sounds we have met along the way are all brought together for one last hurrah, with a rich piano layer running underneath like a river of notes leading the listener towards the inevitable conclusion that lies ahead. When it all eventually comes to an end, there’s the remaining feeling that Steve Mahabir has certainly set out to achieve something reasonably ambitious, and it’s fair to say that he just might have pulled it off.

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