“Indecision” (Steven Page Cover)

Originally posted 2010-07-26 23:29:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

As is our way around here at the Laptop Sessions, I’ve decided to celebrate the release of a new track with an acoustic cover song music video.

Big surprise given the title of our blog, eh?

Well, tonight I bring you my performance of Steven Page’s forthcoming single “Indecision” off his first solo album proper: Page One (pun intended, I’m sure!), due out September 28th.  He just announced the title and track listing yesterday, and I was able to find a live performance on YouTube that sounded like classic Steven Page.  It was somewhat difficult to hear the intricacies of the vocals and guitars over the drum sound — due to the quality of the recording — but I have a feeling that the actual studio recording is going to be great.

And I only have to wait a day to find out!

That’s right; I hurried to record this version of the song as a means of honoring and advertising the new release.  I’m hoping you’ll like my take on the song enough to click over to iTunes tomorrow and download this track.  I’ll be there.  Probably at midnight just in case it’s up immediately…

One of the main reasons I took the time today to figure out the chords and lyrics is that I can think of no better way, as a musician and singer/songwriter myself, of enjoying a great new song than learning the words and chords to be able to play along with it.

So, without further ado, I give you my take on this new Steven Page track.  I hope this is incentive enough for you to check out the real deal tomorrow, and the full album in a couple months…

See you next session!

REVIEW: Steven Page’s “Page One” (2010) – Special to the LS Blog

Originally posted 2010-11-30 12:30:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Ben Neal:

RATING: 4.5 / 5 stars

The first album I ever fell in love with was BNL’s Maroon, which was the band’s last real presence on the consciousness of the mainstream public (in America, at least). Maroon starts out light and entertaining enough with the first five songs, but the back half of the album was where the beauty was to be found. Each track became progressively darker and dealt with issues varying from adultery to a cynical view of idealism to celebrity and political satire with a great level of success. I still listen to it as much as I did that Fall of 2001, and like a great novel or a great film it still packs the same punch, even though the songs mean something different for me than they did back then. From that point on, I was hooked on BNL and in particular, the songs sung by Steven Page. Page’s songs always had a certain quintessential quality: contrasting bright sounds with dark lyrics that always had a bit of irony and double meaning, and he was never afraid to look back and be referential towards his influences, be they musical or literary.

Why am I writing about a decade-old album when reviewing Steven Page’s latest album Page One? In some ways, Page One represents the full evolution of an artist and capitalizes on the potential of Maroon, both musically and thematically. Where Maroon was ultimately about taking (or at least, trying or wanting to) charge and control of one’s life, Page One is about finally doing just that.

Page One kicks off with “A New Shore”, a metaphorical journey about beginning anew and being hopeful, and frankly I can think of no better way for Page to start this album. It’s a song you did not expect, from the horn-heavy composition to the hopeful nature of the song; whereas many fans expected this is to be a more morbid record, this is a signal we are in for a more optimistic and bright album that anyone could have expected. While the story of the song is told via nautical references, the subtext is pretty clear and addresses his departure from his role as a “black mark” in a cheerful band by saying “I forget whether I was pushed or jumped aboard and after all of this time what is the difference?” “A New Shore”’s use of metaphor is a reminder that some of the best BNL songs were always told by allegory (a la “Bank Job” or “When I Fall”).

Indecision is a rather odd choice to follow-up A New Shore, since it seems to be a polar opposite to the latter’s emphasis on making a change and being happy with it. “Indecision” actually dates back a few years and was never included on BNL albums due to their shift away from songs co-written by anyone outside of the band, and is reminiscent of songs like “Upside Down” or “Bull in a China Shop.” That being said, it is a very strong song that represents some of the best sounds you will hear on most contemporary albums, even if it feels slightly out of place on this album. Ironically, it makes a good retro-response to “I Have Learned”’s, where Ed Robertson sings “You’re not comfortable until you’re not/when things get wonderful, you get hot.”

Next up is the folksy, but extremely powerful “Clifton Springs,” which Page has described as one of the most personal songs on the album. It follows a pretty straightforward personal narrative that, ironically, tells the story of the pratfalls of not trusting yourself and of being held hostage by “indecision.”

Page One (Steven Page, 2010)

Page One (Steven Page, 2010)

Up next is what some would call an anti-matrimonial trilogy of “Entourage,” “Marry Me,” and “All the Young Monogamists.” However, I don’t see these songs as an attack on marriage or monogamy at all. “Entourage” in the tradition of “Sell Sell Sell” and “Celebrity” represents a biting satire on the state of big time celebrity, whereas “Marry Me” and “Monogamists” examine marriage and serious relationships from a jaded perspective to be sure (this is Steven Page, after all), but they both ultimately embrace the relationships. “Monogamists” also has been self-described by Page as his first true love song, albeit one with jaded protagonists and features some beautiful strings and is one of the album’s highlights.

“She’s Trying to Save Me” and “Over Joy” represent a change both musically and thematically from the earlier songs in the album and sound like reminiscent fresh pop music from the 60s and 70s, yet deal with the destructive effects that depression can have on relationships. Page has always soared highest in my mind when singing about these issues (“This is Where It Ends,” “War on Drugs,” etc.) and does not disappoint here. In particular, “Over Joy” is an amazingly beautiful song that is perfectly produced and Page’s voice is wonderful here with every inflection expertly enacted. “Over Joy” also does what Page does best: contrast dark lyrics with a sunny composition (see “So.Cal” from The Vanity Project as another example). Personally, I find it to be my favorite track on this excellent album.

The next three tracks could not be more divergent. “If You Love Me” is a brazen and bold track that borders on camp, but ultimately works more than I could have ever imagined and serves as a reminder of Page’s origins as a Duran Duran (the original lead singer of Duran Duran, Stephen Duffy co-wrote much of the album with Page) devotee. “Leave Her Alone” is as Chris Moore noted in his review, a quite dynamic track and one that harkens back to the “big band” era of yesteryear. Like “When You Dream” from Stunt, it speaks to parenthood, but from a very different perspective. “Queen of America,” on the other hand is unlike anything I’ve heard from the BNL/Page canon before. It tells the story of a drag queen and explores how gay culture is often co-opted by mainstream society, and the indulgent overproduction of this track makes its sound and theme quite ironic. One of the most interesting elements of these songs is how they illustrate how various songs on this album fit in nicely with the music of probably six decades and none of the tracks are predictable.

This finally brings me to “The Chorus, Girl.” I include the comma because, in classic Page fashion, the title has a double meaning: the song is about the Chorus, girl and not a girl in a chorus line. This is an amazing and transcendent song with an almost epic and universal appeal, and is about the difficulty in creating art and the danger in trying to be Everything to Everyone whether in art or in life. In some ways, it serves a nice bookend to “Running Out of Ink” as its essentially about having trouble with the creative process, but this song works on a macro-level where “Ink” addressed these issues on a more micro level. It’s a heartbreaking and beautiful song and stands out as probably the best of the album and one of the best of his career. From the first few chords to the “la la la”s at the end, it is a song to behold and treasure.

While it has flaws (namely a couple instances of overproduction and due to being written over a number of years, lacking cohesion), Page One represents some of Page’s best work to date and is an album to behold, treasure, and undoubtedly listen to, over and over and over for years to come. It represents the full evolution of a great artist and packs an emotional punch without feeling too weighty. It also, thankfully, brings us the return of Page’s songwriting partnership with Stephen Duffy. In the early BNL era he co-wrote songs such as “Jane,” “Call and Answer,” and the powerful, but never recorded “Powder Blue”; but in an effort to make the band more member-centric, a decision was made to only record songs from within the band so his songs did not make the cut for the last several BNL albums.  While it’s sad to see the Page/Robertson songwriting duo come to an end, it’s refreshing to see the return of the Duffy partnership.

As I close, I was struck by the similarities (despite being very different artists) of two of the favorites of the Laptop Sessions (and me personally):  Steven Page and Jakob Dylan. Both were quasi-one hit wonders from the 1990s remembered for a super-hit song. Ironically, both their best works came in the years immediately after their peak of popularity (Maroon for Page and  Breach and Red Letter Days for Dylan). Both always fought various preconceptions of being silly or being known for/compared to who their father was; both are not afraid to be self-referential/depreciating in their music (“Hand Me Down” or “Box Set”), both vary through musical genres with ease and unpredictability, and both are two of the finest and fearless artists of their generation.

Steven Page’s “Page One” (2010) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-11-14 12:02:02. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  4 / 5 stars

Coming on the heels of the excellent post-Page BnL disc All in Good Time, “expectations” would be the key word when considering the aptly-titled Page One.  Steven Page has already released two solo albums, but the Vanity Project was a side project (with much less risk involved) and A Singer Must Die with the Art of Time Ensemble was… well, covers played with an ensemble.  They were both excellent: the former in and of itself and the latter for what it was.

In all practicality, Page One is the first true Steven Page solo album.

As such, it is an exercise in expressing his talents across a variety of genres.  Some are tracks that could have fit seamlessly on previous Barenaked Ladies records.  Others would simply never have fit in that venue.

This aforementioned variety is perhaps the most appealing feature of his debut.  After all, the power pop appeal of such tracks as “Indecision” can only extend so far before one begins to go numb (taking notes, Brendan Benson?).  And, with the exception of several moments of overproduced indulgence on tracks like “Entourage” and “Queen of America,” the dynamics of these twelve diverse tracks are admirably balanced to attain cohesion as an album.

And there are several moments of absolute perfection in style, sound, and tone.  Take the opening lines of the first song, “A New Shore:”  “As captain of this band of merry sailors I’m a black mark I’m a failure/So before you watch me drown/I’m relinquishing command for something I don’t understand/this man’s about to turn his whole life upside down.”  Under any other circumstances, this nautical analogy might seem forced or cliched.  However, as it marks his departure from the extraordinarily successful band that has served as the anchor (see, I can do it too!) of his entire musical career up to this point, it seems quite appropriate.

While I follow the juxtaposition of the “merry sailors,” arguably the other four members of BnL, and the color “black,” perhaps to indicate the more serious, introverted nature of Page’s material — think: “Bad Day” on the otherwise joyous and goofy Snacktime! — the term “failure” would seem an over-exaggeration.

Still, there are many fans of the nineties rock group who consider Page’s departure a betrayal.  Some go so far as to condemn Page’s conduct in the year leading up to his exit as immoral and unforgivable.

Had this cocaine bust occurred several decades earlier or in a different band, he would have been elevated a level into rock superstar iconography, the stuff of legends.

Occurring when it did, and being who he is, Page has been vilified by the contingent of so-called family-friendly fans.

And yet, disappointed as I was to learn of the breakup, I did appreciate Page’s attitude.  As he told one interviewer, “I keep saying to fans, ‘Just think: you get a two-for-one now. You get their records and my records.'”

Page One (Steven Page, 2010)

Page One (Steven Page, 2010)

This record tells a story of internal conflict, expressed in a direct and personal manner that would arguably have lost some resonance as the product of five member band.  “Indecision” is the second track, the first single, and a signpost of sorts.  If Page One is an exploration of the recent dramatic events of his life, then “Indecision” introduces the first of the destructive forces at work: namely, indecisiveness.

As Page sings, “I’m predisposed to have it/Happiest when I don’t know what to do/I want to settle down like my father/I want to run away like my mother ought to.”

This track may be read as a response of sorts to the Barenaked Ladies’ own 2010 single “You Run Away.”  In that song, fell0w BnL co-founder Ed Robertson sings, “I’ll give you something you can cry about/One thing you should try it out/Hold a mirror shoulder high/When you’re older look you in the eye.”  Page is clearly doing this, rooting his insecurities in analogies of the family (mother/father), and admitting that he thrives on a degree of ambiguity and perhaps even crisis.

The song that follows, “Clifton Springs,” is ostensibly a character narrative, and yet Page’s delivery of certain lines resonates as though the story speaks to a deeper, more personal connection.  He sings, “My stigmata’s the regret for how/I could have let it all/Go so wrong.”  The question here is, of course, does Page intend simply to create a story or is this an outlet for expressing his own sentiments?  Other lines like “You’ve got to do what’s best for yourself” and references to “the ghosts of a life” coalesce with the thematic tones that recur across the other eleven tracks and seem to point to the latter.

(Still, devotee of the school of Dylan that I am, I acknowledge that speculation out of proportion can only serve to obscure music, not clarify it.)

The subsequent three tracks provide an array of perspectives on fidelity in general and marriage in particular.  In “Entourage,” the singer seeks immediate pleasure in the form of sex, elevating the quest by the end of the song to state, “Now we’re through with morality,/can I sleep with your wife?/I want to be like you/And your entourage/Tonight.”

“Marry Me” follows with a proposal of marriage, albeit a decidedly perfunctory one, as it comes with the rationale “I know it’s the same all over the world.”  The layers are further peeled back to reveal the heart of this figure’s matrimonial leanings: “Marry me…/Without our love, we’d just be normal people marching forward/Normal people? Who? You and Me? It can’t be!”  In each case — the looser groupie and the norm-conscious fiance-to-be — the ultimate motivation is satisfaction, whether it be physical or psychological.

The third installment in this anti-matrimonial trilogy is “All the Young Monogamists,” in which the singer and his partner observe the young couples they see, smiling to themselves as they “know what’s in store.”  As Page sings, “As they gaze into the eyes/Of the one they love/They can feel inside of them/That this is not enough.”  After expressing this existential emptiness and offering up four unpromising outcomes — tiring out, running away, sleeping around, or settling — the narrator ultimately finds himself coming full circle as he embarks on a monogamous relationship, promising “I will always be true to you.”

So, there is some optimism to cling to, after all.

This is followed by the one-two power-pop punch of “She’s Trying to Save Me” and “Over Joy,” songs which explore that second destructive force: depression.  This is a familiar force, one which has crept into the undertones — and, sometimes, overtones — of Page’s previous work.  And these are excellent, if not groundbreaking, efforts.  The former has “second single” written all over it, and the latter comes off as the Vanity Project’s answer to Wilco’s “Please Be Patient With Me.”

I would have pegged a track nine with a title like “If You Love Me” to be the mid-album slow song, but no dice.  The rock rolls on.  The phrasing here is of interest, placing the onus of relationship maintenance on the other party.  “IF you love me,” Page sings, “Everything will be all right tonight.”

“Leave Her Alone” follows, and is arguably the most dynamic track on the album.  If “All the Young Monogamists” could have been a candidate for A Singer Must Die, then “Leave Her Alone” is a brilliant blend between rock, pop, big band, and orchestral music.  This song boasts some of the strongest and bluntest lyrics, ranging from eloquent introspection (“Rephrasing the hazing amazed at/how cruel men could be,/I saw they were no different from me”) to baser internal rhymes (“And subsequent cities were shitty as well”).

Then comes “Queen of America,” the one song I’ve been unable to place on the Page One spectrum.  Truth be told, it sounds like an outtake from a Scissor Sisters album in topic, tone, and closing voice-over.

Page One wraps up fittingly with “The Chorus Girl,” the first of his songs to take a deep breath.  I’ll leave this one for you to discover on your own, but suffice it to say that every other song is a step leading up to this track.

Oh, and there is a winking reference to cocaine to rival Ed Robertson’s All in Good Time line, “You crash the party, I’ll crash the plane.”

In most respects, Page One lives up to expectations.  There is no denying that it is bittersweet to hold the BnL and Steven Page releases side by side and to realize that they each contain aspects that the other does not, and perhaps cannot.  This being said, I see no value in lamenting the breakup.  Instead, it would be best that fans follow Page’s logic and embrace this two-for-one deal.  If we respect and perhaps even trust these five men, this split must have been a positive and necessary development, and it has at the very least yielded some of the most urgent, passionate music of their recent career.

If only for now, that should be enough.

“Indecision” by Steven Page – Chords & How to Play

Originally posted 2010-07-26 16:13:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

“Indecision”
Steven Page & Stephen Duffy

Riff: G F C D (x4)

Gm C
I’ve always been a creature of habit,
Am D Gm
But another way I’m addicted to you.
I’m predisposed to have it,
Happiest when I don’t know what to do.
I wanna settle down like my father;
I wanna run away like my mother ought to.

G F C D
Be prepared for indecision; it might make me disappear.
Then again, my addiction to indecision keeps me here.

Riff (x4)

I was born between the tracks.
I left home, I turned around and came back.
One day you and I will be intertwined,
If I can only make up my mind.

Be prepared for indecision; it might make me disappear.
Then again, my addiction to indecision keeps me here.

Riff (x2)

Eb F G
Leave decisions up to fate
Eb F D
Nothing comes to those who wait

Come see the view from on top of the fence.
We’ll watch the world unfold its events.
Some days when I am nearly awake,
I can almost hear the decisions I’ll make.

Be prepared for indecision; it might make me disappear.
Then again, my addiction to indecision keeps me here.
Be prepared for indecision; it might make me disappear.
Then again, my addiction to indecision keeps me here.

Riff (x2)

End on G

** These chords and lyrics are interpretations and transcriptions, respectively, and are the sole property of the copyright holder(s).  They are posted on this website free of charge for no profit for the purpose of study and commentary, as allowed for under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, and should only be used for such personal and/or academic work. **