Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review: Steven James Wylie - Everything I Love EP

Sometimes you’ve got to hit rock bottom before you can start heading for the top again. That’s just what up and coming artist Steven James Wylie realized when he found himself and his expectant wife living in his parent’s basement after his real estate development company crashed and took his financial security and material possessions along with it.

“It was a brutally painful season, but as time went on I began to realize it was an opportunity. It was actually one of the greatest things to ever happen to me,” he shares. “Before that, I felt like I was 65 and my life was over, but after the dust settled, I reconnected with music and felt reborn.”
That rebirth found the artist pulling from two uniquely diverse influences. The first influence was that of his Spokane, Washington upbringing, where he grew up heavily influenced by the alt-rock Seattle sound. The second influence came as Wylie found himself unemployed and fallen, watching television and, interestingly enough, finding his creativity stoked once again by watching country music videos. With the juices flowing, Wylie took action and has since released three LP’s, one EP, and various singles and is set to make an impact with his latest work, Everything I Love.

Everything I Love definitely showcases the artist at his best as he performs five songs that cull from those differing elements while letting Wylie add healthy doses of his own creativity as well. The template holds stronger toward the pop country side, the alt rock taking a back seat this time but the number one star here is Wylie himself as he sings through well-crafted lyrics with his soulfully textured voice.
The EP opens up with the smooth, acoustic country strains of the title track, Wylie singing of a simple life enriched by intangible blessings, sharing, “These are the things that you can’t take away/The simple joys of living/That God gave me today/You can take the house and take the car/I’ll be okay/These are the things that you can’t take away.” It’s a warm and heartfelt start that gets the record off to a strong start.

Wylie puts his faith front and center on “This Is What Faith Is,” offering up an acoustic pop rock jam with some welcome guest vocals from CCM veteran, Christine Dente, who gives the track an additional lift while “Flower” draws some big, organic percussion together with piano and acoustic guitar as the artist sings lyrics of encouragement and love.
“Butterfly” is an upbeat lullaby of sorts, Wylie singing to his baby daughter over against a bright, mid-tempo pop background with rich guitar fills and tight melodies, the artist’s vocals warm and resonant. Those vocals continue to shine on album closer “Beautiful Souls,” Wylie’s voice recalling elements of Chris Daughtry as he sings the soulful lyrics, “Family ties can never break/And that explains all of the heartache/Here today then say goodbye/I will keep your legacy/God knows I will try.”

Losing his real estate business may have been the best thing to have happened to Steven James Wylie. The artist has emerged from his difficult season, buoyed not only by God-given talent but also a renewed purpose in his craft. His work on Everything I Love speaks of hard work, dedication, and honesty while capturing a warm and creative essence as he encourages listeners going through hard times. It’s one that’s well worth a listen or three.

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