Quebecois-native, Stephan Patterson presents an instrumental album that is inspired by American musical influences ranging from folk to country to jazz. The union of musical styles is reflected in the instrumental wanderings on guitar and flute. Mark Matthews plays bass and Max Sivkov plays drums to round out the trio. People and Places is a moving and refreshing work of vocal-less beauty that captures the musical essence of light rock, jazz, and folk.
“People and Places” opens with scintillating guitar strumming, bass, and raw drumming. A flute joins the instrumentation before the smooth jazz guitar effects add a different dimension to the music. The spacious jazz tones are reflected in the extended notes of the slightly dampened guitar sounds.
“Driving” begins with a smooth jazz guitar line and swishy percussion beats that are up-tempo and slightly nostalgic—reminiscent of the pop/rock music of the 1950s or 60s. The smooth guitar notes are slightly infused with a dose of surf rock. The wholly instrumental song is a four-minute romp through the annals of Americana musicianship.
“Coming of Life” opens with the captivating notes of a flute before the percussion sets in. The melody is pleasant and relatively steady with only a few different cadences throughout. A flute solo near the end of the song is not accompanied by other instrumentation, but a minute before the end of the song the guitar, bass, and drums kick in for a musical climax.
“Oscillations” opens with an oscillatory guitar that sounds as if the strings are rippling through water. Though, the guitar emerges unscathed, but in a different tone with the onset of the percussion drumsticks and tapping sounds. The clanging cymbals and vacillating drum beats match the relatively experimental, but nostalgic inspirations of Americana music. The end of the song returns to wavering guitar tones, which seem like a perfect ending to the song.
“In a Heartbeat” begins with a few low, guitar notes that are bluesy, jazzy, and folk-centered. The ambulating guitar notes are accompanied by a pop/rock drum beat that is authentic, but rather simplistic. The song opens up with spacious guitar reverberations and a folk/rock ambiance. The flute makes an appearance mid-song, but it is nothing that depreciates the quality of the music as a whole. Interestingly, the song is over five-and-a-half-minutes long, which is sardonic for a song title referring to a heart-beat. At any rate, Stephan crams a lot of good melodies into the mix with an electric guitar display near the end of the song.
Stephan Patterson’s latest work, People and Places, is a wholly instrumental and eight-track release around a half hour long. The bluesy, jazzy, and instrumental pop/rock leanings from the heart of America are showcased eloquently and with remarkable dexterity. The drums provide a good beat and they are varied over the different songs. The guitar is as varied as the percussion, but the percussion is relatively light throughout. The sparkling guitar notes, wavering notes, and diverse strumming makes a world of difference for musical variety. The combination of Americana-type melodies and folk/jazz-focused instrumentals creates a pleasant listening atmosphere. The jazzy themes are marked by the similarly-talented Lee Ritenour. However, additional artist comparisons are difficult to ascertain, due to the uniqueness of Stephan’s music. Nevertheless, it is clear anyone with an interest or passion in instrumental folk, jazz, and early Americana music in a contemporary setting will love and appreciate the compelling music. Overall, Stephan makes a great album that will be enjoyed by ‘people and places’.
Review by Matthew Forss
Rating: 4.5 Stars (out of 5)