Stevie V was born in Denver, Colorado and has called Missoula, Montana home for 14 years.
His new album Popular to Contrary Belief- available for sale, download and streaming now- is a multi-instrumentalist’s multi-genre solo journey through his musical world. Featuring indelible and sometimes hauntingly poignant songwriting, both approach and outcome are sui generis. Many songs exist in quite varied realms, yet the album as a whole feels and moves as an extraordinary continuum.
Recorded in beautiful Missoula, Montana and composed, performed and produced by Stevie V, Popular to Contrary Belief is a stylistically wide-ranging and beautifully flowing album. Although the songs stand on their own, this album is designed as a complete artwork. The album weaves effortlessly between themes of love and lost love, and there seems to be an unmistakable and deliberate importance given to the authentic and relatable expression of these universal feelings. Or as a succinct critic said, it’s “intelligent, emotional and understandable.”
Although he would deflect any comparison, other multi-instrumentalists such as Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Prince and John Paul Jones have undoubtedly influenced Stevie V. Armed with the inspiration that these artists provided, Stevie V set out to cohesively distill his many other influences, from Memphis’ Stax Records to Daft Punk, into this album. And cohesive it is. A remarkable, almost preternatural chemistry exists between all of the respective instruments, made even more remarkable knowing that there cannot ever be a “live” practice where all instruments get to hash out a workable arrangement together. Only in the unknowable workspace of his own mind can these elements deliberate and come to their just verdict.
One caveat required to describe Popular to Contrary Belief is that on several songs other performers appear. And while that may seem antithetical to the premise, simply naming them will clarify the raison d’être. They are Amelia Thornton, Bente Grinde and Callie Monroe Woodman, and as may be reasonably extrapolated, they perform the only instrument Stevie V will never be able to perform- the female voice. Because of this inability, he found it suitable to extend an exception to the solo aspect of the album in that the very tangible talent of these women could elevate the songs to a dimension that without them was not possible.
The album starts as many extended compositions of various stripes do- with an overture. The Thirty Second Overture is just that- a delightful, progressive intro to the album that somehow in just 30 seconds clearly demonstrates Stevie V’s musical acumen and properly attunes the listener to what is in store. (It’s Driving Me) A Little Bit Crazy begins with the reserved zeal the overture ends with, and it showcases the first turn through the theme of love lost. This song is also the first song on which the other performers appear. This Is It (You Are Here) is a funky, groove driven hip-hop song with lyrics that speak to social/racial/environmental justice. Echoes of My Breaking Heart, a pretty straightaway rock song (with a little twang), deals with the effects of love lost. Rad Onions is Stevie V’s homage to the instrumental Booker T. and the MG’s.
Love lost is balanced by love found in Without You, half gospel groove, half 80’s pop, in which we find the first appearance of present-love as the theme. This song is also the last of the three songs that have as a musical theme similar chord structures, but vastly different styles (the prior two being This Is It (You Are Here) and Rad Onions). MIDI Me is an instrumental foray into electronic music. Sweet Beguiles, a sweet little acoustic ditty, further elucidates the theme of love. Funky Jamz is a funky, groove-heavy instrumental. What is Time is a dive into edifying, intellectual hip-hop, which at one point quotes Tom Paine. And the denouement of the album, as it were, Duty Bound is a fairly straightaway rock song with a beautiful, inspiring four-part harmony chorus. The arc of the song, one of suffering and ultimate redemption, condenses the various themes into a final, liberating exaltation.
While this is his first solo venture, Stevie V has played in several bands that have toured regionally and that have opened for nationally touring acts in Missoula. Stevie V works as a butcher by day and earned a portion of the money used to finance his album in poker games. He eagerly awaits the release of his current album so he can get back into the studio to continue the irreplaceable creative experience that represents and to continue the growth that has been replete in the course of this project.