Stephen Jackman doesn't need anyone. That is, he's a solo artist who requires no one but himself to play all of the instruments—percussion, bass, synth and guitar—and sing lead and backup on his recordings. Steve Me Alone, the Flathead Valley resident's appropriately titled album, is his sophomore effort. And like his debut, Band O' Steve, it sounds like there are at least five other people in the band. It's a pretty sweet trick.
That said, this isn't my favorite kind of music. It's a little hazy and psychedelic at times, and the echo effects are like listening to Steely Dan underwater—which is something I would not enjoy, though I know some people who would. Some songs suffer from the worst singer-songwriter downfalls with a lot of "baby" and "honey" lines and cliché lyrics like, "People talk about things they don't know, like to believe in things they don't really understand."
But Jackman's harmonies and quirky, creative panache often overrule the flaws. In "Montana," the abrupt silences between keyboard riffs add edginess. And "Houseboat" shimmers with dreamy vocal layers so lulling that it's just like a boat drifting under the stars. Those songs alone keep this album afloat.
Stephen Jackman plays a CD release show at the Boiler Room in Kalispell Friday, July 16, at 8 PM. Free.