Friend Like Me Reviews
Yes I Believe Reviews
Friend Like Me Reviews(Abridged):
Howell is fearless and comfortable with himself and strips this one back and delivers an engaging solid vocal and guitar. There is a deep down in the soul feel that questions the listener as Howell's vocals add to that mystique. So very authentic stripped bare country Blues.
Howell singing to his highest register and his fragile voice is both stunning and vulnerable. Throughout this album Howell and Michaels have delivered some absolutely mesmerizing guitar that is so understated but also complex.
Howell and his group deliver a musical tour de force of a Folk/Country/ Blues laden album that is stripped bare to expose the frailties that are inspired by these wonderful songs. Howell may not have the greatest voice but what he can do with what he has is brilliant. As a guitarist he is a master of the finger picking style that is mesmerizing indeed. - Peter Merrett, PBS 106.7, Melbourne, Australia
Playing exactly like the friend that you would welcome at your house when he shows up with his guitar and says “hey listen to this one I just found”, Howell is exactly the juke box jaded boomer ears need to have around. Fun stuff that’s organic without back porch trappings, good time rocking folk/blues has a new champion as well as a new subdivision. Well done. - Chris Spector
Steve Howell as musician is like watching a master craftsman at work, methodical, patient, lightly coaxing great beauty from the materials at hand. This band of veteran, gentleman muso's, deftly weave their magic into tales of southern life, indelibly leaving their own subtle and often beautiful stamp on this collection of country blues standards. - Pete "Amigo" Williams, Made in the shade, Melbourne, Australia
This Steve Howell is really hitting the spot. You know what I like. My favorite record of 2015. Great job!! – Paul Benjamin, Paul Benjamin Band, Tulsa, OK
Steve Howell & The Mighty Men are back again with their new release, Friend Like Me. As eclectic as usual, they offer up interpretations of time worn tunes from the ArkLaTex region and the Mississippi Delta to the hills of Kentucky and the Old West, with a couple of delightful side trips thrown in. Steve’s finger style guitar mastery, the unique electric guitar approach of Chris Michaels, the consummate roots drumming of Dave Hoffpauir and the lyrical and rock solid bass playing of Jason Weinheimer, serve up these tunes in a way that is guaranteed to reach lovers of the deepest root of American music. They play the old blues and folk tunes with an authenticity and new approach that is rare today. (Burnside Distribution)
I play this when I'm feeling down.... it always picks me up... that soothing voice and truly inspiring guitar work. Awesome. - Beardo – Bandana Blues
Howell became a true master of his instrument and the musical styles that had stolen his heart. He managed to blend the many varied styles into a sound that is uniquely his own. Friend Like Me manages to hold the listener from start to finish, leaving one longing to hear more when the disc is finished. Steve and The Mighty Men handle these tunes like the treasures they are, showing each the respect it deserves. The result flows like water down a small stream, fluid and refreshing. Country, blues, gospel, folk, pop and more all blend seamlessly for an album that left me hitting the replay button. It doesn't get any better than this...and that's a fact. Call it whatever you like, this is good music. - Bill Wilson, Reflections In Blue
Texan Steve Howell is not only a top-tier fingerpicking wizard and over-the-top vocalist, he’s also a formidable historian regarding the pre-WWII masters that traveled and recorded throughout the South. Steve grew up in a time where the song and its message were the most important things, and he and the Mighty Men make sure this is what the listener hears as well. This one is highly recommended listening! - Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.
Howell sings in a charmingly natural, conversational voice. Throughout, he and the three Mighty Men conjure up a back porch of the imagination, and a most pleasant place to plant oneself it is. Every song triggers joy. Howell and the boys inhabit it as if ghosts drawn to a desolate landscape. In the process they'll call up rich memories you didn't know you had. For that and more, Friend feels like a friend indeed. – Jerome Clark, Rambles.net
Steve Howell likes his blues rough-hewn and haunting, driving his emotional words home with an acoustic but non-the-less potent exclamation point. A veteran of the Ark-La-Tex scene his experiences in the music rich area pour forth like the Mississippi flowing through a back alley behind a row of juke joints. From the melancholy to the mean and lean, the songs really stick with you, both musically and with the soul-tugging stories they weave. – Music Morsels Reviews blog
I just received the newest release, Friend Like Me, from Steve Howell & The Mighty Men and it's got style! I really like the loose guitar soloing technique giving it a raw flavor. This music has an unusual JJ Cale kind of vibe...laid back but pointed. Very cool! Melodic electric guitar work over finger picked acoustic work. Very clean. A unique release. – Bman’s Blues Report
Friend Like Me (Out of The Past Music), the fifth and latest released from Steve Howell & The Mighty Men, is another excellent release from the Texas-born and based singer/guitarist featuring his acoustic finger-picking guitar and warm, smooth vocals. Because of his gentle, laidback approach and superb taste in material Howell’s albums are always a pleasure to listen to. Friend Like Me is no exception. This is an album that will be loved and cherished by fans of acoustic guitar……just like all of Howell’s other recordings. - Graham Clarke, Blues Bytes
Steve Howell & the Mighty Men (Steve on vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, Chris Michaels on electric guitar, Dave Hoffpauir (Arkansas’ answer to Jim Keltner) on drums and Jason Weinheimer on bass) have done it again; “Friend Like Me”, recorded on 2 inch, 16 track tape with all the warmth that brings to the sound, is as real as it gets. Once again, it’s all about the songs; I think Steve would get on really well with Dick Gaughan. Personal favourites on this new c.d. are ”Me and my Uncle”, the John Phillips (The Mamas and the Papas) song that became a Grateful Dead classic. Well I’m going to upset a few people here by saying that I think this is the best take on this great story song ever, likewise “This Old Hammer”; these two songs showcase the true quality of Steve’s singing – it touches your heart at moments like these and is only surpassed on this album on the spooky “Roustabout”; it’s some achievement to sing a whole song basically on one note and keep you totally hooked; hypnotic. Jason Weinheimer’s bass on “Take This Hammer” underpins Steve’s stately picking with flair and solid feel. Chris’ electric guitar drifts across it all with death defying tone. Chris is a great electric guitarist; he really understands the whole deal.
“Aberdeen Mississippi Blues” takes no prisoners! It rocks. “Oh Lord, Search My Heart “ is a wide open, shiny eyed take on a great song that set the Reverend Gary Davis’ heart ticking again. It’s fabulous.
I’m not going to go through all the songs - we’d be here all night. I love this album and I am in awe of the guys who made it.
These guys get it and so will you once you’ve heard this album. It’s a lesson in what the traditional music of America, especially the untamed musical spaces of the South, is all about; it tells a great story of heart and soul with no bullshit
The recording is fantastic; The sound of each instrument is stunning and the sound of the whole band together is something else again. What an album.
But I’m biased. Don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself. – Arnie Cottrell
A kind of country folk blues full of charm and sensuality.
Sometimes unsettling, but still very appealing, the album takes us from Arkansas to Mali and from Texas to Mississippi in less time than it takes to say it, during the trip going through pieces full of subtleties, like “Aberdeen, Mississippi Blues,” “Elder Green Is Gone,” “This Old Hammer,” “Viola Lee Blues” or “Me & My Uncle,” but also the impressive “Roustabout” where Howell revisited in his own way incantations that seem to have descended from the depth of an African griot. Through parts highly refined in rather psychedelic bits, Steve Howell & The Mighty Men live up to the height of their ambitions by offering an exceptionally produced album where each one of the artists proves to be at the top of his trade. Those who appreciate elaborate melodies are up for a feast for sure! – Fred Deforge, Zicazic (France)
Friend Like Me is a mature and laid-back release, more focused on tasteful performances and musicianship than an animated delivery of the acoustic blues. - Reviewed by Douglas Dowling Peach, Black Grooves.org, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.
I never imagined that Steve Howell could handle such handsome cover versions. Great stuff! - Philip Verhaege, Keys And Chords, The Netherlands
"Friend Like Me" is the fifth album of the Texan fingerpicking master Steve Howell. It has now become well known that Steve has a preference for the blues sound of, let's say, Mississippi John Hurt, but on this record he goes a little wider and takes us to browse in known and lesser known songs of the old Blues masters from the South. Ten of their songs get a little refurbishment/refreshment and in Howell's hands that means it results in an exceptionally pleasant record.It is great to hear how Howell's warm voice and equal guitar play flow together with the rest of the band. Lightly R&B spiced with catchy guitar riffs and fantasically sung, makes for the third peak in a row. This band is so tightly knit. The acoustic finger picking play can be called outright impressive. A record that is well recommended. - Luc Meert
The sound is that of a few old friends sitting around a stove or fireplace playing some of their favorites. Instrumentally, the sound is laid back and homey, with quietly electrified guitars from - New Blues News
All are played with real feeling and skill, from a clearly experienced outfit. The surprise card in the hand here is the closing track, a marvelous cover of the old ‘60s Manfred Mann hit, “Pretty Flamingo’, which manages to sound soulful, absolutely sixties and fresh all at the same time. An inspired choice in many ways, it typifies the eclecticism and enduring quality of most of the songs covered in the mix. Howell seems to be a guy with one eye on the future and both feet firmly grounded in the country blues. His voice, laid-back and fruity, pushes the whole project along with an evident sense of fun and pleasure.
Unlike many ‘cover’ albums, Friend Like Me sounds original, and is rewarding and instantly enjoyable. This is an album worth checking out for lovers of traditional acoustic-fuelled blues with a hint of originality, as comfortable and satisfying as a pair of your old, favorite jeans.
– Iain Patience, Elmore Magazine
“Pure, original, authentic.” – Michael Liminos, Blues.gr (Greece)
Howell finger picks in a style that evokes the late Chet Atkins and is content to recreate traditional country blues. He possesses a warm voice similar to Elvin Bishops and his albums are collections of tunes almost forgotten. The Academy of Texas Music awarded “Since I Saw You Last” a first time “Historical Significance Award” which “honors the efforts of the album to preserve the fidelity of the tunes recorded and recognizes the significance of the emotion embedded in each…”
The Academy of Texas Music was onto something. Someone should nominate Howell for a “Keeping The Blues Alive” award. This is a thoroughly enjoyable recording. - Richard Ludmerer, Making A Scene Newsletter
Whatever is musically and historically valuable, must be honored! This assumes not only folklorists such as John Lomax or Cortez D. Reece, but also musicians such as John Fahey, Doc Watson, Roy Book Binder and even the Grateful Dead. Blues classics from before or even after the Second World War were changed by them to a modern version, just as now Texan Steve Howell does on his fifth album. He also retakes blues songs from Charley Patton, Bukka White, Rev. Gary Davis and Gus Cannon and puts his own soul into them. The hit ‘Pretty Flamingo’ of Manfred Mann dates from later, as well as ‘Me and My Uncle’ from John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas. Yet all the songs form a harmonic whole through the original interpretations of the restless singer-guitarist who has involved himself for more than forty years in the roots music of Southern America. Chris Michaels on electric guitar and the rhythm section fill the songs with a nice vintage sound which shows in the melancholy ‘This Old Hammer’ or the brewing ‘Roustabout’ by creating moody atmosphere. Also, we never suspected that the traditional ‘Little Sadie,’ which has been covered countless times, could intrigue us again from the rhythm and feel as if nothing has changed since 1922. The guitars, finger tingling, relaxed, rebellious or resonating, and the drumming of Hoffpauir recolor all of these old songs that received new life in Little Rock, Arkansas. - Mieke Geukens, Back To The Roots (Belgium)
His performances are infused with a still; reassuring calm enthusiasm that pays wonderful homage to the neglected gems of the past, all the while his gentle acoustic finger picking style exudes patience, skill and understanding. His soft, slightly raw and intriguingly burred vocals are a splendid accompaniment to the highly satisfying music that he so pleasantly delivers. All ten numbers are covers that were lovingly recorded on analogue equipment which gives the overall sound a strangely flat yet, intriguingly haunting and inviting atmosphere which in turn draws you ever more closely into the music. There is nothing flash or showy about Steve and his music it is simply solid, old and timeless! Recommended!Brian Harman, Blues In The South (UK)
If there is smooth jazz, can there not be smooth blues? It doesn’t quite sound right and although I could describe Steve Howell’s music as such, it is important to remind people of the sharp corners evident. The songs are silkier and not as fiery as many blues artists, instead focusing on thoughtful vocals and a mix of carefully picked electric and acoustic guitars atop a mannered rhythm section. While not for everyone, I think folk fans would enjoy this style of blues more than the clichéd blues rock artisans. The songs are a mix of traditional cuts along with some of the classic blues writers over a long era and up to folk rocker, John Phillips. I found this style excellent and the arrangements even varied from relaxing to mysterious and dangerous. This is a great approach for the blues in the 21st Century.
© David Hintz, Folkworld (Germany)
It’s not always necessary to let loose and it’s also not written [anywhere] that, if it doesn’t touch you deeply, it isn’t Blues. With his new album Steve Howell proposes ten covers in the pursuit of a relaxing sound, a steady and very personal calmness that actually distinguishes the artist and release. Fulminated in his youth by Mississippi John Hurt, the Texan reached his fifth album with his simple acoustic finger-picking, always sufficient in itself and most of all a formidable link for Chris Michaels (electric guitar), Dave Hoffpauir (drums) and Jason Weinhemer (bass), alias The Mighty Men. Howell’s voice is not limpid and the width is limited, but the tone is warm and appropriate for the folk genre and country blues. Great attention [paid] to the instruments and the natural rendition,
- Matteo Gaccioli, IL Blues (Italy)
The fifth album by this Texan musician, brings a collection of ten songs of old masters of the genre, which originally were recorded in acoustic versions. Howell performs them in a delicate, electric version in such a subtle way that he produces an impression of listening to electro-acoustic blues. The music is soft and pleasant. It's rhythmically varied and has its own warm and even mysterious atmosphere. It is pleasant to listen. Interesting arrangements and execution by Howell and his team are responsible for this. We listen to, among others, compositions by Bukka White, Charley Patton, Josh Thomas, Rev. Gary Davis, Noah Lewis and a few other less known musicians of the deep past. This album brings relaxation and comfort after a hard day.
- Piotr Gwizdata, TwojBlues (Poland)
What drives a small Texas oilman to embark on a risky and costly enterprise such as recording blues, if not a passion for music? That’s how it is for Steve Howell who after meeting up with his loyal ones, The Mighty Men, recorded in an entirely analogical manner his fifth album, Friend Like Me, which contains ten homages to equally famous original blues songs, written by Charley Patton, Noah Lewis, Bukka White, Reverend Gary Davis, or John Philips of the Mamas and Papas.
In his sixties, Howell’s indolent and coarse voice and skillful fingerpicking strike again, thanks to an absolutely traditional arrangement, but performed with elegance by his pards, Chris Michaels, Dave Hoffpauir, Jason Weinheimer, who reveal all of their deep knowledge of blues savoir faire.
The booklet is equipped with interesting author notes, explaining the genesis of the individual songs, demonstrating a passion and considerable expertise, and revealing important episodes of Howell’s musical past and collaborations, as well as the roots of his inspiration, from Mississippi John Hurt to the Hot Tuna.
Amongst the songs, also his two gems: Viola Lee Blues, intriguing mix of 60’s psychedelia and 20’s swing, and Me & My Uncle, both famous for having been two major war horses of the Grateful Dead concerts; this all masterfully reviewed and led by Howell’s bluesy presence, the real tutelary deity of the project.
Who said blues induces depression? This blues, played this way, can only make you feel good.
- Laura Bianchi, Mescalina.it
Although “Friend Like Me” is his sixth album, the Texan guitarist Steve Howell is only known to a few connoisseurs. And it’s unjustly, because the older man with twinkling eyes and an emphasized mischievous smile is a famous acoustic guitarist and an excellent singer. He also belongs as some others to the walking libraries and keepers of the old traditional blues music. In the album “Friend like Me” he has made, together with his excellent band, ten songs between traditionals and from people like Charley Patton, Bukka White, and Reverend Gary Davis. In addition to “Pretty Flamingo” and “Me And My Uncle” it includes two interpretations of songs from the 1960’s, which Manfred Mann and Grateful Dead had on their setlists. What is exciting about this very quiet, relaxing album is the variability appropriate for Howell’s approach to the songs, because he neither lays stress on precise “soundalikes” nor gives importance to absurd variations. Howell and his band present all tracks in their rolling, twanging, multidimensional concept recalling evenings on the porch in the sunny southern states. In its makeup “Friend Like Me” is reminiscent of the techniques of the wonderful Dan Hicks. To enjoy the most of the musical finesse it is better to use the headphones.
(ThR) – Blues News (Germany)
Steve Howell is an old hand from the Texas/Arkansas/Louisiana tri-state area. With much understatement and much charm, he fronts his quartet The Mighty Men with traditional, finger-picking blues. “Friends Like Me” (Out Of The Past Music) awaits with a well-designed selection of classics from, among others, Charlie Patton, “Baby Face” Thomas, Bukka White or Reverend Gary Davis as well as witty interpretations of hits from the sixties.
– Kurz Angespielt, Jazz ‘N More (Switzerland)
Reviews (abridged) – “Yes, I Believe I Will”
Master Texas acoustic guitarist and singer Steve Howell performs a range of soulful music burning with an inner flame growing brighter with each listening, while revealing layers of expression often lost in high decibel electric blues…… an extraordinary musical ramble….. immediately confirms his true blues creds as a guitarist and singer as he casts an evocative rural spell…..uncommonly supple groove of Hoffpauir and the fluid electric licks from Michaels. Howell “lives” through the dark temptations of life, the intertwining acoustic and electric guitars producing a web of swirling feelings………the propulsive, unfailingly tasteful electric guitar of Michaels. Like a great method actor, Steve Howell inhabits his music with enormous genuine authenticity. The title Yes, I Believe I Will at once declares his intent and resolve to play the blues his way, producing an unforgettable experience blurring the line between art and life.
- Dave Rubin, 2005 KBA winner in Journalism (Sept. 2013)
You have to love this old, white boy because he’s got a great act and he’s one of those cats that ranks up there with the best guys you never heard of…….Howell has the authentic, heartfelt delivery and style that isn’t made for going to the top of the charts but is made for keeping you on board no matter what’s going on with fad and fashion. One of those simply great down home/back porch records that’ll have you grinning while he does the picking. Solid throughout.
- Chris Spector, Midwest Record, www.midwestrecord.com,, (Sept. 2013)
I love it. Steve has the licks, and the patience to make these songs brand new, and very enjoyable. Chris throws in some electric guitar that adds sugar to the pie. However, Dave Hoffpauir is just consummate. I mean the perfect drummer for this style. Nothing real fancy, no screaming tube screamers, just that slow train driving through the cool evening countryside.
- Blue Barry – Smoky Mtn. Blues Society (Sept. 2013)
……..it is really hauntingly good. Very cool……….a lot of authenticity and feeling. This band……manages to take just the right note and place it in just the right location to tweak the sound..... this is a nice one!
– Bman’s Blues Report (Sept. 2013)
This is one of those pieces that, if I were to pick what I would consider my Top Ten best albums of the year, this would rate high on the list. Steve Howell is one of the finest guitarists I have ever heard and his vocals fit the song like a glove. They are soulful, passionate and overflowing with emotional power…….this unit is as solid as it gets……...a truly timeless quality. These are the albums that will be just as fresh and valid twenty, thirty, even fifty years down the road as they were on the day they were recorded. One of the many talents that sets Howell apart from the majority of those artists playing in this style is his ability as a storyteller. Steve Howell has the ability to take a song, rework it without messing with its essential elements and breathing new life into it. This is one of those bands that is well-versed in the music and the history behind it making them one of those rare gems that can capture the sound, spirit and overall feel of the era they have culled the tunes from for the album at hand. Yes, I Believe I Will, while pulled from times past, is destined to be a masterpiece. Very few manage to deliver works so beautiful, powerful and passionate but Steve Howell & Mighty Men appear to do it with ease.
They truly love what they do and it shows. Seldom do I hear something I would feel confident to recommend to anyone and everyone but this is one of those rare pieces.
– Bill Wilson, Reflections In Blue (Oct. 2013)
Sophisticated interpretations of pre-war traditional country blues. The traditional country blues of Steve Howell and The Mighty Men exudes authenticity and in a nuanced and varied approach effortlessly transcends the defined borders of the genre.
- Cis Van Looy – Keys & Chords, The Netherlands
A true gem of an album that pays tribute to days gone by in styles that few today can match. This album draws you in from the very first note and holds you to the end, if it was vinyl one could be excused for wanting to turn it over for side two. This is an outstanding release.
- Peter Merrett, PBS106.7, Melbourne, Australia
A classic storyteller and extraordinary fingerpicker, he specializes in music from the era where traveling troubadours hoboed on freight trains and spread blues and folk music all across the land. Steve Howell can take any song and make it uniquely his own. His deft fingerpicking and marvelous vocal style makes him an ideal modern-day troubadour, and “Yes, I Believe I Will” is another long, cool drink from his bottomless wellspring of great blues! Until next time…
Sheryl and Don Crow. Don and Sheryl Blues Blog
(Steve Howell) continues to not only thrill us with his extraordinary guitar picking style, but also, in his own special way, offers us a history lesson of what really good American Roots & Blues sounds like. "Yes, I Believe I Will" certainly continues in that vein and will have you, as the listener, more than a little astonished and amazed with Steve Howell's artistic brilliance…….. ten immensely entertaining tracks…..Great Great Stuff…..another amazing album from Steve Howell, one for which, as with all his others, really should be part of any musical library of anyone claiming to be a fan of good and honest Root, Blues, & Folk music. "Yes, I Believe I Will" is one of the very finest albums in the Tradition of Root, Blues, & Folk music, released, so far for 2013, hands down. "Yes, I Believe I Will", certainly gets my highest rating of 5*****, with the wish that I had a higher rating to give it.
- John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
A particularly fine recording. The interpretations of some pretty prestigious material really work well. The best sound production he's had to date substantial in authenticity. In the midst of old classics and screaming Stratocasters, it's great to have these textures to enrich the timbre of the broadcast.
– Mic Dave, WLRH/WJAB, Huntsville, Alabama
Steve is one of those remarkably articulate players who, while never missing a note, never comes across as a technician.
– Phil Martin. blood, dirt & angels
Howell has really shined on three previous albums that mix these various genres with original compositions and tasteful covers, but this time around, the master guitarist focuses on reinterpretations of old tunes with stellar support from Chris Michaels (electric and acoustic guitars, bass), Dave Hoffpauir (drums), and Jason Weinheimer (keyboards).
The guitar work from Howell and Michaels is simply marvelous, and Howell’s vocals strike the right balance with the songs, whether conveying heartbreak or loneliness. As on his previous releases, the production is magnificent, giving you the feeling that the musicians are in the room with you.
Yes, I Believe I Will is a gentle, relaxed session that will reward fans of acoustic blues and roots guitar.
- Graham Clarke, Blues Bytes (November 2013)
Howell has the chops to get the best out of his axes and he plays with an eloquent maturity and refined elegance, clean and smooth. He gets capable help from his longtime band, with Chris Michaels on guitar and bass, Dave Hoffpauir on drums, and Jason Weinheimer on keyboards. Clearly, they can finish each other’s musical sentences. Yes, I Believe I Will offers up ten great tasteful tunes, covering blues traditions, Appalachian mountain music, and folk, all fitting together perfectly. A nice addition to the acoustic blues today by a superb artist who has all the chops and the good sense to play understated, but beautifully.
Frank Matheis, Living Blues Magazine (Dec. 2013)
A constant throughout this album is Steve’s fine, honest, lived-in singing.
- Blues & Rhythm, Norman Darwen (December 2013)
Lone Star acoustic blues guitarist/vocalist Steve Howell here serves up a tasty and wide-ranging set, matching his seasoned, unhurried singing style with simpatico small-group grooves and lots of fine, underplayed fretwork. (4 Stars)
– Duane Verh, Roots Music Report (December 2013)
His music equally rooted in the early rural acoustic blues and jazz traditions, he continues to pursue his passions with the patience and appreciation of a master craftsman. His invitingly mellow almost fading vocals are a delightful mixture of Burl Ives and Eric Clapton, if this is not enough; the undeniable quality of his endearing charm and wistfulness emphatically draws you in further. The picking of Steve seeps immeasurably into your soul and the highly charged melancholic playing of Chris Michaels, Dave Hoffpauir, and Jason Weinheimer quietly engulfs you in a calming cocoon. Any barbed comments or observations glide effortlessly over your head unless of course, you care to pay attention to the lyrics of numbers such as; “Wasted Mind”, where Steve bemoans the lackadaisical youth of today who, for all the wrong reasons are on first name turns with the local police force and appear to have more time for exotic substances and Eminem than their estranged girlfriends and babies. All this is done with a dexterous fingerpickin’ aplomb. The Fleetwood’s “Mr. Blue”, is an illusory escape into tranquillity with its sad and woeful tale of adulterous enjoyment, delivered in the most dignified of ways. Another highlight is the nineteen twenty-eight bible inspired Blind Willie Johnson “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning,” the pins and needle electric guitar segueing with the spine tingling acoustic guitar takes your mind right the way back into the darkness of the slave-trading days of the past. Equally, “Country Blues”, Moran Lee ‘Dock’ Boggs’ nineteen twenty-seven darkly prophetic gamblers tale is absolutely riveting. Once again, the superbly addictive melancholic theme is continued with “Devil’s Side.” The rolling picking of “I Know You Rider” temporarily lifts the mood of the album somewhat; the album closes with the Jaunty if not Joyous “Rake and Rambling Blade”. A nineteenth century tale concerning, highwaymen, robbery and dastardly deeds. Highly recommended!
- Brian Harman. Bluesinthenorthwest.com (UK) (Dec. 2013)
Lone Star acoustic blues guitarist/vocalist Steve Howell here serves up a tasty and wide-ranging set, matching his seasoned, unhurried singing style with simpatico small-group grooves and lots of fine, underplayed fretwork. Mr. Howell revives traditional fare as well as worthy roots-bound works of later vintage.
- Duane Verh, Roots Music Report (Dec. 2013)
The effect is that of a homecoming for the pure pleasure of playing together, where each musician finds his pace organically and doesn’t have to show off his own abilities. An informal way to make music, ideal for a series of electroacoustic pieces fished out of traditional or from the repertoire of artists who are very different from each other. Howell has a singer songwriter’s voice which is well-suited to ballads of the folk type…….appreciated for his intrinsic calm force. The Mighty Men make appearances which are not showy but which are, upon careful listening, substantial, to make these pieces their own. It’s a good disc of American roots music, chiseled by a craftsman with a sense of a job well done.
– Matteo Bossi, Il Blues (December 2013)
Folk and blues artist Steve Howell plays a mean guitar. On acoustic, he is smooth and tasty, creating bluesy licks that caress the lyrics of the song, while on resonator, he plays fills that accent the acoustic, commenting on the main guitar.
- Rambles.net, Michael Scott Cain (Jan. 2014)
This is a masterpiece by a very fine musician and musicologist. Steve Howell is one of the very best acoustic guitarists of our time.
- #11 on Bruce’s Top 12 of 2013, Sunday Night Blues Project.
A delightful, congenial mix of folk, country and blues that will appeal to a wide range of roots music listeners.
- Ron Weinstock, Jazz & Blues Report (Jan. 2014)
master texas acoustic guitarist and singer, steve howell, performs a range of soulful music burning with an inner flame growing brighter with each listening. then add the mighty men, his band, and you can create a submarine golng in reverse. "yes, i believe i will" has these religious overtones that gives it poignancy. you can listen to so many tracks of this album, over and over, and it gives you shivers each time.
-John Shelton Ivany jsitop21.com (Feb. 2014)
This Texan interprets these in a relaxed manner that shows his knowledge of the tradition without becoming a caricature. The result is an album that catches the tension at play among folk, blues and roots music. This new CD should appeal to all those who appreciate a lighter touch.
– Blues News –Germany (Feb. 2014)
Though he has recorded in an ensemble format before, this time Texas acoustic bluesman Steve Howell gathers a few kindred spirits on lead guitar, bass, drums and keys for his first full band album ever. You’d think such an ensemble would easily drown out the acoustic bluesman’s otherwise splendid finger-picking and drawly vocals but Howell makes sure the sonic mix is right – vocals front and center, not overshadowed by the rest of the band. Though a chemistry exists between all The Mighty Men, Howell and lead guitarist Chris Michaels seemingly have a tight bond with Michaels’ jagged/fuzzed-out unimposing licks weaving in and out of Howell’s vocals. Howell even tackles the tuneful “Mr. Blue,” a 1959 #1 hit by The Fleetwoods, for a lovely change of pace. Overall, a rare record that doesn’t try to force its groove, it just naturally settles on one. Liner notes include explanations and origins of the songs as well as types of instruments used.
– Dan Willging, Holler – Colorado Blues Society (Feb. 2014).
For his 4th album, Steve, along with the fine guitarist Chris Michaels, offers covers of songs from 1928 to 2005, rearranged in his blend of a Chicago electric or more acoustic sound. This takes just enough edge off the majority of his hard rockin' blues, definitely adding a hint of country with the Walk On Boy from Mel Tillis and Wasted Mind from banjoist Danny Barnes, and it even borders on folk like the ballad Rake and Rambling Blade. My favorite track is one unexpected here, i.e., the soft ballad from the Fleetwoods, Mr. Blue.
- Le Cri du Coyote (French – March 2014)
Master Texas acoustic guitarist and singer, Steve Howell, with his band, The Mighty Men, perform a range of soulful music burning with inner flames growing brighter with each listening, while revealing layers of expression often lost in high decibel electric blues. On the explosive album, "Yes, I Believe I Will," Steve belts like he's crying with joy with a powerful, bass voice.
– John Shelton Ivany Top 21 (#439 – March 2014)
Steve Howell has created a record with an all-encompassing atmosphere with a whiff of the contemporary troubadour about it. Steve presents a semi-acoustic album, showcasing all his artistic potential and talent in a handful of solid, confident songs that make for very agreeable listening in a calm, intimate setting. Steve has made a delicate, gratifying record in which a folk-blues aesthetic takes precedence over any sense of the avant-garde. MUY BUENO
- La Hora Del Blues (March 2014) Barcelona, Spain
Steve is an acoustic guitar genius and vocalist that was born in Marshall, Texas, and raised in East Texas and Louisiana. Yes, I Believe I Will is Steve Howell & the Mighty Men’s fourth self-released disc, and it is very special. This album has a very natural acoustic sound to it. The production values are high and it is a very well-made disc. This set is perfect for sitting back and just savoring the listening experience. In a day and age of over-processed commercial tunes, one hit wonders and cookie cutter instant hits, Steve Howell & The Mighty Men are doing work they can be proud of. This is confirmed by the traditional “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning,” a 19th-century African-American spiritual that was originally recorded in 1928 by Blind Willie Johnson. Howell is a fine acoustic player and his interplay with Michaels’ distorted electric guitar is certainly mesmerizing, but even more striking is the honesty and genuine tone his hoarse singing voice gives to this powerful song. The harsh electric guitar solo might not seem like it would fit into this serious folk blues track, but it works out perfectly as it bridges 150 years of musical and social history. The band ends their set with a classy folk remake of a 1800s Irish tune, “Rake and Rambling Blade.” There is a marvelous texture of acoustic guitar and muted electric guitar with a tasteful banjo accent that fits in well with the somber lyrics that describe the life a no-good highway robber. This is the last piece of the mosaic that makes up this album, making it a complete journey through everything that is good about the American music of the south. Yes, I Believe I Will is a Steve Howell & The Mighty Men’s best work to date and if you are a fan of roots music, folk music or country blues it is a must-have for your collection. Even electric blues aficionados will surely find many things to like amongst the ten tracks this talented quartet put together. Listen for yourself and see!
– Blues Blast Magazine, Central Illinois (4-2014)
Texas born acoustic finger style guitar player Steve Howell invited Chris Michaels (guitars, bass), Dave Hoffpauir (drums) and Jason Weinheimer (keyboards) to record 10 classic blues songs. Howell sings the mid-tempo country blues “I had a notion” accompanied by fine finger picking and shuffling drum beat. “Walk on boy” (Wayne P. Walker/Mel Tillis) is a wonderful blues tune from the sixties featuring nice e-guitar licks, finger style acoustic guitar and Howell’s soft and laid back vocals. On “Keep your lamps trimmed and burning” Michaels adds some terrific e-guitar riffs to the relaxed keyboards and acoustic guitar sound. “Future Blues”, written by Willie Brown in 1930, is a rhythmic blues with shrieking e-guitar, pulsating bass and Howell’s great singing. The fourth album of Steve Howell is a great collection of semi-acoustic relaxed blues songs, brought forward by fine musicians and showcasing Howell’s gifted finger style guitar playing.
– Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup, Folkworld, Germany (7-2014)
Bit by bit, Steve Howell and his Mighty Men: Chris Michaels (guitar and bass), Dave Hoffpauir (drums) and Jason Weinheimer (keyboard) manage to present these songs entirely in their own style – quiet blues – without you noticing it’s not their own songs. Excellent work.
Willem Croese, Back To The Roots (Belgium) (Aug. 2014)