This week’s Mid-Week Mixtape is courtesy of Sydney solo artist Bryan Estepa. Bryan writes great country infused pop songs, the kind that Ryan Adams might have written post-Love Is Hell if he took anti-depressants and listened to more albums by The Beatles.
A recent review published in a much more widely read publication than this blog described aforementioned songs as ‘country rock-cum-pop’ but to my ears that sounds less like Estepa and more like an obscure porn genre that can only be found in adult stores in Nashville and Austin. So it’s country ‘infused’ pop, okay? Make of that what you will…
On his latest album Vessels, Estepa wraps tender lyrics around seemingly effortless and catchy melodies. Of course, that effortlessness only seems to be so, as Bryan claims on his website to have suffered significantly from writer’s block before recording the album!
Still, writer’s block or no, he has managed to scrape together some words about the following songs that have inspired him over the years.
The Bee Gees – To Love Somebody
A song that instantly connects me to my childhood. Of my uncles and mother harmonising to this tune and the Bee Gees greatest hits on repeat during the long drives on our school holidays. This is the Gibb brothers writing a song for Otis Redding. He sadly did not get the chance to sing it but this version can last me a lifetime of listens. Brilliant.
The Jayhawks – The Man Who Loved Life
This was my first introduction to this fabulous band and pretty much got me hooked from the first line. People seem to overlook Sound Of Lies when talking superlatives about the Jayhawks back catalogue. Which is a damn shame as it’s an amazingly textured album. Louris’s guitar lines and arrangements, especially with this song is quite remarkable. As for memories, this conjures up my first time driving through Texas where I picked up this album in a thrift shop near San Antonio. Worth every $3.99 spent.
Elliott Smith – Ballad Of Big Nothing
There’s only a few artists who I never ever tire of listening too, no matter how many repeat rotations happens with their music. Elliott’s music is one of them and this song shows everything great about this man in 2 min and 48 seconds. His voice always tugs my heart at the right places and I’m constantly at awe at how his songwriting makes it seem so simple yet is very much complex and intelligent. This always brings me back to my working stint in the USA where all I had was a cassette of his 2 albums, Either/Or and XO to keep me company for two months and got me through it unscathed!
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Texas Flood
There was a time when I fancied myself as a guitar shredder and part-time bluesman, jamming to every blues song I can get my hands on. The (Good) intervention and discovery of ‘alt-country’ & 70’s west coast rock changed the game a bit for me but my one guitar hero that’s still constant to this day is Stevie Ray Vaughan. Though I loved Hendrix, Clapton, Page etc, it was SRV’s guitar playing that really connected to me on a deeper level. Every note and run he plays has so much conviction and soul. The fact that we lost him just as he was reveling in his sobriety is a tragedy. Listen to ‘Texas Flood’ and you will know exactly what I mean
You Am I – How Much Is Enough
My late high school and University years was pretty much soundtracked by the million You Am I shows I went too. I idolised and worshiped this band and realised that we had our own world-class live band in our backyard. Tim Rogers & co, influenced my early songwriting a lot and made me want to be onstage. I remember the excitement by myself and all the crowd before each gig and would many times climax for me during their encore with ‘How much is enough’. I always left You Am I gigs sweating, exhausted but bloody happy!
Bryan Estepa will be launching Vessels at the Annandale Hotel on March 17. Supports include Dave McCormack, Matt Purcell & the Blessed Curse and the Bernie Hayes Quartet.