Steven Paul Perry has been sitting on this collection of songs for too long. Not enough marketing has been invested in his “The Human Condition” CD. Perry has crafted the 12 songs on this disc to the ultimate level of sonic perfection. He is also a hell of a guitar player, and he has the benefit of being a really cool, funky dude who knows how to have fun and rock out.
On his opening track “Raisin’ Hell,” Perry meshes lead, rhythm, and acoustic guitars into tough leather rock and roll in this tale of rowdy mischief. Perry has one of those voices that was born to sing rock and roll. He is one of those Boston rock and roll cats who fell under the curse. His music will make scratch your head and wonder why he was never signed and famous. (I know that can happen to musicians in any city, but it seems to happen to a lot of Boston players/singers. Maybe because Boston is smaller on the map than New York, Chicago, and LA so the music industry moguls don’t focus on the Hub as much).
There is a little more subtle nuance to Perry’s work than other artists coming from the classic rock genre. “Blue Light” is a piano ballad with some restraint in his smooth honey flow of a voice. He double tracked his vocal on the chorus and the effect is fantastic. He plays all the instruments on this track, and he gives it all a nice extra texture of notes. There is true emotion in his keyboards. “Blue Light” was recorded at Blue Light Studios, showing that this tunesmith has a sense of humor.
“Don‘t Take Too Long” has a basic guitar, bass, and drums arrangement and it rocks out as a three piece would, hard and simple. Perry’s double-tracked vocals rock solid in the 1970s mode. Some cleverly placed power chord here give it some spikes. After Perry sucks you in with his rhythm, he then let’s loose with a hefty guitar phrase that glides over the grooves as smooth and perfect as a laser beam.
There’s an old fashioned dobro blues thing going on in “Come Shinin’ Thru” that makes it feel homey and familiar, and, Cry No More is another good mix of electric and acoustic guitars, laying out an expansive soundscape for Perry’s vocal to soar over. In many of his songs there is interesting friction in the brisk way he rubs electric and acoustic guitars against each other. The edgy, compressed guitar work always creates a solid platform for his vocal workouts. And in Perry’s vocal strategies there are always heartfelt performances.
“The Way I Do” shows that Perry can also neatly construct a classic rock influenced ballad, with more rangy guitar phrases playing over an elegant piano from Dan Kenney. Some moments show that Perry is better off using a guest musician instead of playing every guitar himself. David Wolf Ginades added an extra thick dollop of thick, knobby bass notes to “Stick Around,” one of the strongest foundations on this CD.
Perry’s best song here might be “Drive This Train,” a mighty locomotive of a tune, with lyrics detailing train metaphors. This song rocks the hardest and Perry’s occasional scream vocal is among the best from the Boston.scene This is simply local hard rock at its finest. “What’s Wrong With Love” is Perry’s funkiest tune on this CD, beginning with a danceable backbeat and twangy bass line. The chorus, a glorious gospel harmony, is ably handled by Perry’s friends Rick Berlin, Nancy Adams, and Julie Woods.
His other guest players reads like a who’s who in the Hub: Drummer Forest Padgett, keyboardist Alizon Lissance, drummer Larry Harvey, bassist Chris Chezna, bassist Tom Sheppard, drummer Mike Mangini, Keyboardist Jane Balmond, guitarist Bobby Dalton, bassist John Foster, and drummer Peter Chicklas, All of the songs on this CD could have been classic rock radio hits in the 1970s. Each makes you think of cruising down the highway on a hot summer day with all the windows rolled down.