The Sound Cafe
Steve Marriner Makes The Move To Solo Artist
By Eric Alper.
Canadian bluesman Steve Marriner is ushering a decidedly more roots-rock Americana sound to the forefront with the release of his new solo album, Hope Dies Last.
Crafted through COVID — and inspired by years on the road, and back — the 10-track full-length is available this July 2 via Stony Plain Records. It explores not only an evolving sound for the ever-busy artist, but an ever-expanding skill set as well.
“I like to be on the move,” Marriner shares, who took on engineering the project. “To me, standing still feels the same as walking backwards; not only is it a survival mechanism, but it truly is my passion to have my hands in so many different projects. There’s just so much to learn, and it’s that learning that sustains me as an artist.
“I had decided a couple of weeks into the pandemic that I would use my new-found downtime to learn how to engineer and mix recordings,” he continues. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to know how to do; I’d been producing records and doing session work for a bunch of artists, and I’ve sat beside some incredible engineers in my career... Turns out, I absorbed a ton of what I was witnessing.”
A multi-award winning and esteemed solo artist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer in his own right, Hope Dies Last is Marriner’s second solo release; Going Up was released in 2007.
In addition, he has performed extensively with the likes of Colin James, Paul Reddick, Samantha Martin, Delta Sugar, Lee Holmes, and more, is one-half of Manx Marriner Mainline with Harry Manx, and one-third of the JUNO and Maple Blues Award-winning trio MonkeyJunk.
“Hope Dies Last is different from a MonkeyJunk record in a multitude of ways,” Marriner reveals. “On MonkeyJunk records, the sounds are created largely by Matt Sobb, Tony D., and myself. On Hope Dies Last, there are 15 other musicians who have lent their extraordinary talents to the creation of this project.
“Throughout the summer, Jimmy Bowskill and I did a ton of sonic experimenting; tinkering; listening,” he continues, noting the multi-awarded blues-rocker, lead guitarist for The Sheepdogs, and recording engineer at Ganaraska Recording Company. “Stylistically, I’m exploring some territory closer to Americana that I haven’t visited yet."
“There’s lots of rocking on this release, but there are some pretty tender moments as well; it felt good to get low.”
Hope Dies Last……guaranteed to lift roots music lovers’ spirits in a time when that is needed more than ever.
That Steve Marriner has accomplished as much as he has in the past decade, remains a story that continues to impress on a variety of fronts and for a variety of reasons.
Simply put, it is nothing short of astounding that this Ottawa-raised, Toronto-based musician has driven, guided and participated in so many impressive and acclaimed recording and live performance projects. The multi-instrumentalist, songwriting singer sits at, or near the top of the list, as “Canada’s hardest working person in show biz.”
MonkeyJunk, has been a fan and critics favourite since the trio first roared down the track some 13 years ago. The blues-basted trio with whom he sings, writes, and plays ferocious harp, has released six albums. The group has won an impressive number of Juno Awards, and Maple Blues Awards in numerous categories. There’s nothing to suggest that train isn’t going to keep rolling down the track for some time to come.
In addition to having ample opportunities to catch the man with the broad smile and unbridled energy perform with MonkeyJunk, audiences have witnessed Steve play the role of musical foil to Colin James on stage and on the outstanding release Miles To Go. Those same audiences have heard him deliver one tasty lick after another or sing alongside Harry Manx on their 2019 critically acclaimed and chart-topping duo outing, Hellbound for Heaven.