Steve Drizos is no stranger to the game. He’s been a professional touring musician for nearly thirty years, as well as a studio owner, engineer and producer in the vibrant music scene of Portland, OR. Surprisingly, though, his debut solo album was released just a few years ago, written and recorded during the early part
Steve Drizos is no stranger to the game. He’s been a professional touring musician for nearly thirty years, as well as a studio owner, engineer and producer in the vibrant music scene of Portland, OR. Surprisingly, though, his debut solo album was released just a few years ago, written and recorded during the early part of the pandemic, with Drizos playing most of the instruments himself on Axiom.
My first record, Axiom, got a lot more attention and positive feedback than I ever could have imagined, so I felt really motivated to release a follow up as soon as possible.
Different than Axiom, however, Drizos decided to demo the songs himself and then build a band to fill them out for the album. It was a different take, probably something of a risky venture, but it certainly paid off, as i love you now leave me alone is in a league all on its own.
The record begins with a vocal intimacy I wasn’t expecting, something of a callback to Axiom, with just Steve singing and playing in a deep, rich voice that maintains an honesty that invites us to begin this journey with him.
I worked with an amazing singer and good friend, Rebecca Sanborn, as a vocal producer/coach and she really pushed me to do things that I didn’t think I could do…As someone who doesn’t consider myself a strong vocalist, I am really happy with the results on this record.
This second album is a step forward, as if expanding the ‘universe’ of Drizos. Wheras his first album is largely introspective, all about Drizos and his newfound sobriety, i love you now leave me alone is about the people around him, the dynamics of relationships, which makes the decision to assemble a band and record together that much more powerful. He even includes his wife, Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists, in the band on piano. Also supporting are Joe Mengis (Eels) on drums, Tim Murphy (RoughCuts) on bass/backing vocals, and Todd Wright on electric guitar/BGV.
But what about that title? How is this an album about relationships?
The sentiment of ‘I love you, now leave me alone’ is relatable to most introverts like myself…Deeply loving those closest to us, but at the same time being pretty happy to be left alone. I had the title before I had any of the songs finished or even started. It kind of gave me a compass direction as to what the record was going to be about.
As I listened to the record, I kept feeling like I was on a solo journey, driving a motorcycle through some windy mountain road — maybe akin to the hills surround Portland, where Drizo resides. Sometimes cloudy, then pouring rain, and other times the sun full and vibrant, the listener is taken somewhere through ups and downs, ultimately landing in a better place with a little more maturity and self-realization.
Everyone I call home
Something I want you to know
You lift me up, you fill my soul
I love you, now leave me alone
– from “kick into touch”
Stylistically, the first thing I noticed about this album is the strong influence of 90s rock. If you are fan of the Goo Goo Dolls or Hootie and the Blowfish, Steve Drizos is definitely worth a listen. On this throwback influence, Steve says, “I love the energy and larger-than-life aspect of music from that era. Can it be overly earnest from time to time? Absolutely. But I’m not afraid to go there!” Still, the songs aren’t a copy or regurgitation of bygone tunes, but only influenced by them. “It doesn’t feel like it was a choice to go in the direction of 90s rock, it’s just where I live most of the time.”
Production-wise, i love you now leave me alone shows off Steve’s chops as a producer and songwriter. The variation and dynamics of each song builds such a flow to the record that only a true professional could deliver. Tempo changes, various instruments dipping in and out to accent the themes, all bridged by beautiful and poignant guitar solos, never over-indulgent, but just the right length to add texture and variety to an already interesting album. And then, just when you think you’ve got things figured out, “beautiful nothing” comes in towards the end with a whole new level of sound-scaping, starting with an ethereal cresting wave before the guitar and vocals creep in. Some harmonies fall in later, which is something we haven’t heard too much until that point, but is another nice way of expertly moving the album forward, never repetitious, always fresh.
After the whole experience, the final track takes us through to the other side with maturity and resolution, though a minor change of the chords relates the humility that the artist still doesn’t have everything figured out, but what has been said is said and that’s enough.
All I’m doing is making music that I enjoy making and listening to, and hope that others will get something out of it…I hope it gets to people’s ears and they find something that they can relate to in it.