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Published: 2012/07/03
by Brian Robbins

Steven Graves
Matter Of Time

Steven Graves Music

Matter of Time is Steven Graves’ love letter/mix tape to the world, unique in the fact that all the musical personalities offered up are truly his. In the course of the album’s 13 tracks, Graves doles out armfuls of positive vibes in settings that range from Ronnie Lane-style sweetness-by-the-woodstove (the cozy mandolin-propelled “Back To Love”) to rootsy, smiley-faced reggae (the horn and keyboard-infused “Mr. Sunshine”). And as eclectic as the sounds and styles are, Graves makes it work, sounding comfy and natural throughout.

The album credits for Matter of Time reveal a long list of talented friends who contributed to various cuts – but next to Graves himself, the MVP title has to go to multi-instrumentalist Dayan Kai. Kai not only plays all kinds of things with strings and keys (along with trumpet, flute, and percussion), he produced Matter of Time with a total understanding of what Steven Graves was after. The result is an upbeat gumbo that’ll remind you of many while copying from none.

The title tune (a showcase for Charlie Wallace’s break-your-heart-beautiful pedal steel) sums up what Steven Graves is all about: he sings of patience, humor, and humility without ever sounding preachy as the song revolves around him in a slow, tie-dyed waltz. When Ariel Thiermann weaves her vox with Graves’ on “Right From My Heart”, it makes for a bit of Jefferson Starship déjà vu; the pair take a totally different approach on the upbeat skank of “Saturday Night” (during which Graves neatly slides in a quote from The Beatles’ “I Got A Feeling”), batting lyrics back and forth between them like a hacky sack. Tammi Brown should also be noted for her vocal work throughout the album, including “Love Is Real” – a Donna The Buffalo-style bouncer thanks to Darren Davison’s fiddle and a happy, churning rhythm. Like your social consciousness to have a beat as well as a message? “White Buffalo” is as good a song as it is thought-provoking, with Graves and Kai weaving electric leads with wisps of flute and Native American rhythms.

Along with his songwriting skills – he wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the album except for Beres Hammond’s “Putting Up Resistance” – Graves is quite a picker, as well. Check out his Santana-flavored lead on “Just A Dream” or his take-you-home acoustic work on the unplugged version of “Mr. Sunshine” that closes the album.

Matter Of Time is an easy album to just put on, hit “play”, and let it roll – it make you think a little and smile a lot. And you can’t ask for more than that.

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