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You Showed Me

Steve Almaas

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Album Review

Former Beat Rodeo frontman Steve Almaas must be confused about the way rock & roll career arcs are supposed to rise (or fall). Working in a genre propped up by the twin pillars of youth and image, he's doing his best work in his forties. A series of criminally ignored solo albums in the '90s pointed the way to a new introspective direction, and the eponymous 2002 duets album with girlfriend and former Speedball Baby bassist Ali Smithsealed the deal, with Almaas and Smith buffing up their sweet Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris harmonies on a series of country-tinged retro-pop tunes. You Showed Me does nothing to reverse the upward trend. Equally inspired by the classic country duets of the '60s (think George Jones & Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn), and the chiming guitar work of Roger McGuinn, Almaas and Smith have crafted a modest little pop gem that works just fine in the new millennium. The opening title track, originally a minor hit for the Byrds and the Turtles, unveils the template that is used throughout — heavily reverbed guitars and heavenly harmonies. Although Almaas and Smith both take solo turns, this is primarily a duets outing, and the material is impressively eclectic. "What No Angel Knows" and "The Winner" are straight-up Bakersfield honky tonk lopes, and wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Beat Rodeo album, but "The Lonely Sea," an early Brian Wilson composition, is given over to Smith's dreamy girl group vocals and Almaas' multi-tracked harmonies that effectively mimic an entire Beach Boys chorale. "Absolutely Free" is bolstered by guitarist extraordinaire Mitch Easter's swirling, psychedelic "Eight Miles High" impersonation, while "#7" fuses a James Joyce poem to what sounds like a traditional British folk song, but is instead an Almaas original. Almaas provides some withering topical commentary on a couple tracks, and is clearly no fan of George W. Bush. But those tracks are an anomaly. This is timeless pop music that could have emanated from 1966 or 2006, and it will most likely sound just as good a decade from now. It makes you wonder what Almaas is going to do in his fifties.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Singer/songwriter Steve Almaas rose from New York City punk of the late '70s into a well-respected artist during the '80s and '90s. Almaas wasn't a part of the whole corporate scheme of things, having played in various bands during the decade of big-hair metal and warming synth pop. Born to Scandinavian parents who emigrated to Minnesota, Almaas' adolescent years were spent exploring the Minneapolis post-punk scene, making music with the Suicide Commandos long before the haven days of Hüsker Dü,...
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You Showed Me, Steve Almaas
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