Stevie V plays an album release party at the Public House Sun., Apr. 14, 7 PM to 10 PM. Free.
Stephen Hayes, aka Stevie V, proves he’s got talent just by virtue of having played every instrument on his new solo album, Popular to Contrary Belief (with the exception of three female singers featured on some tracks). The Missoula musician has a pretty good ear for genre, too: blues rock bass lines, funky hip-hop vocals, organ-steeped soul, country ditties, EDM and basic mid-tempo rock. Some riffs evoke early Huey Lewis and a couple songs recall the hip-hop stylings of Beck. It’s not too jarring, but it’s not exactly cohesive.
Stevie V is especially good on “Midi Me,” an EDM tune with no lyrics that feels straight out of 1980s film drama. That brings me to the central problem of this album. Several of these songs are about love, but only in a generic sense. We hear about a man lost without a woman or lying next to a woman in bed or chasing a “beguiling” woman whose “feminine wiles” haunt him. I can’t picture these women because they’re buried in cliches and broad strokes.
On the final track, “Duty Bound,” Stevie V shows a keen understanding of nuance — the rhythm is spot on, the guitar and organ breakdowns and crescendos genuinely soulful. With snappier, more unpredictable lyrics these songs could really shake a person up.