Steven Delopoulos, As If Love Was A Sword as reviewed in The Phantom Tollbooth pick of the monthOf Delopoulos’ three solo albums, this vault release may indeed be the best!

As If Love Was A Sword (NoiseTrade Exclusive B-Sides)
Artist: Steven Delopoulos
Label: Steven Delopoulos
Release Date: October 13, 2008
Duration: 10 tracks, 29:23

This often forgotten gathering of ‘vault’ material from Steven Delopoulos has recently been given new life in light of Burlap to Cashmere’s upcoming December, 2014 third full album release. At first listen, there is surprise at the quality of the content considering it is a ‘vault’ release (previously unreleased material). There is something here in the collection’s content that keeps the listener coming back for more.

A soft, short alternative version of  “As If Love Was A Sword” opens with light strings and piano laying a tight foundation. This song first appeared on 2007’s Straight Jacket. “Do What You’re Gonna Do” stays with the same melodic underpinnings showcasing Delopoulos’ story telling ability. Sounding much like very early Paul Simon writing, “Lonely Sky” captures the listener with ease.

Bolder ballades follow with “Buried Child” having great acoustic guitar mixed with percussion and string to end the tune, and “Dark City” having lonely vocals matching emotional lyrics. A break from slow blues ballads to hot picking is found in “Gospel Plough” with the message, ‘Keep your hand on that plough, hold on.’

Midway through the Dillon- esqe “Curxify The Soul”, Delopoulos gives tribute to Joe Russo, the man who first taught Demopoulos to finger pick and play folk. “Work To Be Done”, another song from Straightjacket, continues the acoustic folk ballads.

A warmer “Rain Starts Falling” with terrific scat-like vocals gives light and energy to the mix. The finale is given in this version of “As If Love Was A Sword” with great orchestration and choir backing.

Together, this collection of songs becomes a living storybook. Of Delopoulos’ three solo albums, this vault release may indeed be the best!

Scott S Mertens