Steve Fletcher "King of the Classifieds"
Often when you listen to an artist it takes a total immersion before you get an understanding of their style. You can listen to album upon album or go to shows and it may be a different experience every time. Billy Joel is a different person depending on what decade of his life the album was recorded. There isn't anything wrong with that, a lot of the time diversity in an artist is welcomed, but that's not Steve Fletcher. From the very first note on his album you know exactly who Steve is, and by the end of it you feel he knows you. He is an everyman, and I cannot stress enough that this aspect of his personality pushes through his songs and is where the power in his music comes from. We have seen throughout history that when someone has an exorbitant amount of talent it is easy to hide behind. An odd phenomenon that we don't take notice of, but when your voice is like an angel and your instrumentals are hypnotic what your singing can be second. You don't need to understand or even relate to the words because the sound is pretty enough to enjoy. Again that's not Steve, his voice is rough, even gritty at times and he plays alongside an acoustic guitar. This isn’t to say he isn't talented because that would be far from true. What allows his style to be so firmly seated in its chair is there are no distractions to hide what his music is. I don’t know Steve personally but I can say from listening to him, at least when he sings his heart is on his sleeve, vulnerable and beating, there for everyone to see and nothing to protect it. That is the difference between Steve Fletcher and other musicians, there is no buffer between what his music is and what you hear. It is in its purist form.
The comparisons to Bruce Springsteen are easy to make; a similar voice and poetic blue collar lyrics, but when I first heard him another artist came to mind. We all have songs that get a special bookmark, we aren’t always sure why or even know where to store them in our mental library, but for some reason it touches you and then leaves you confused like a ghost just passed through your body. (Full disclosure I have no idea what that would feel like, jury is still out on if I think ghost are real). For me Rufus Wainwright's cover of Hallelujah is a song like that. It’s really a song that leaves you with a bitter sweet emotion especially, when sung by a man who's voice doesn’t ring in crystal clear, Rufus Wainwright's voice has a slight shake to it, it’s warm and cold at the same time. That position of being uncomfortable yet wanting to remain, is so rare yet exactly how I felt when I heard "All That You Need to Find" the first song on Fletcher's album Songs from Island Avenue. In the song he speaks about another man he shoots a round of pool with and as the match goes on and the conversation grows heavier, he watches the man deteriorate as he speaks of a lost love. From the perspective of the man watching this happen he says it’s a "vision I’ve never lost" and that is exactly how the song makes you feel, like your remembering a somber picture of time you've witnessed, maybe one you try to keep at bay but once it is triggered, hard to shake.
For myself I couldn't help but find connection in his song "Don't Go to Ohio". This is a song that begs someone he loves not to move away, not to make Ohio her next move. Now you have to understand I am originally from Ohio, born and raised. There is a lyric in this song that goes like this “It’s the sand, and the sun, and the sea, that you'll miss when you’re not here with me. Your east coast hair will look different out there. There is no heart in the heartland for you”. Look winters in Ohio are hard, and it not just because of the cold and the extra work it brings. It’s because it has a grey haze that last for seven months of the year and that adds an extra weight to your shoulders. Something I have always noticed is the look of people in photos during the winter. People look different. Summer and winter can change an individual entire appearance and when the artist says "your east coast hair will look different out there", he couldn’t be more right. Even the brightest blondes will take on a darker shade when the sun refuses to show its face for months on end.
I believe because Steve Fletcher is so relatable through his music that the interpretations people will have are endless. Each person will have countless personal memories attached to each song and will passionately defend their interpretation, that’s the beauty in Steve’s work.
Check Out Steve Fletcher's album Songs from Island Avenue here.