Universal Music Canada
It's easy to hear why Duane Steele has carved out a long and successful career in Canadian country music, the guy just offers up smooth as silk vocals. He could probably sing a grocery list and make it sound like a fine bourbon.
Local fans can hear that smooth voice at the Painted Hand Casino April 7, when Steele is joined by Jamie Warren and Willie Mack for a one-night show.
Thanks to his fine voice Steele has been able to produce six CDs, starting back in 1991 with his debut Highways, and most recently with Ghost Town.
So what does Steele offer with this latest effort?
Well, it's pretty straight forward, radio friendly materials. Songs such as the title cut, Blue Collar Man, Real Close and actually every other cut here has the sound you hear on country radio. Some will see that as good. It certainly is a way to ensure some level of success. Radio is a Mecca for musicians plying their trade.
On the other hand the material does become more formula-listic, and Steele certainly isn't breaking any new ground here.
That said, with Steele's strong vocals, this is still a musically pleasing CD. It's the kind of material that he performs with a level of emotion. The emotion of a sad song is clearly melancholy, and much of this CD plays on the sombre side of life and emotions. Steele has his hand in writing all the songs, and clearly his strength there is drawing on the hurtin' side of country.
The occasional upbeat cut though is just that, fun to listen too. An example is What d'ya Say.
In a world where a lot of country has the same sound, Steele manages to carve out a place of his own, with his strong vocals, and song choices, which still fit radio, yet are generally strong emotionally too, for example the song Livin' Backwards.
You can check the CD out at www.duanesteele.com
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper April 2, 2008 - Yorkton, SK. Canada