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Album Review

Singer/songwriter Steve Poltz demonstrates his craftsmanship on Traveling, a varied album of story-songs that range from complete fiction to apparently straightforward autobiography. The latter is represented by the longest cut, "Brief History of My Life," which follows Poltz from Canada to San Diego, including encounters with Liberace and Elvis Presley along the way. Those provide examples of Poltz's wit, which occasionally tips over into sarcasm. But he can also be seriously critical, as in "Street Fighter's Face," a first-person imagining of the life of a Marine wounded in Iraq that is part of a long tradition of antiwar folk songs, even if this one is set to a driving rock arrangement. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Billy Harvey deserves credit for that musical setting as for the others, which can give a pop sheen to Poltz's otherwise quirky songs. Harvey coaxes varied vocal performances from Poltz, even including falsetto, and makes his music more accessible than it might be with just the singer and his acoustic guitar. In doing so, he serves the songs well and makes them the point of the disc, as they should be with a songwriter as clever as this.


Born: 19 February 1960 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Steve Poltz is an adult alternative-pop singer/songwriter who released his debut album, One Left Shoe, in the spring of 1998. Born in Canada but raised in San Diego, Poltz began his professional musical career as a member of the Rugburns, who toured throughout America during the early '90s, nurturing a small cult audience. During his time with the Rugburns, Poltz struck up a friendship with Jewel, who was a struggling singer/songwriter in California at the time. The two began collaborating, writing...
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Traveling, Steve Poltz
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