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  Me Died Blue
Artist: Steven Delopoulos
Label: eb+flo/Universal South
Length: 12 tracks / 51:58 min.

And the peasants rejoiced when Steven Delopoulos, former lead singer of now-defunct Latin/world music supergroup Burlap to Cashmere, decided to fly solo on his debut _Me Died Blue_. They rejoiced because they were delighted to see the spirit and principal songwriting force behind such entity trying his own wings with poise and elegance, eluding the Icarus-like fate of others who've valiantly--and miserably--broken free from the corporate force sustaining their music-making credibility.

With some very wide and eclectic shoes to fill, Steven had two formidable tasks at hand: to rekindle the long-lost devotion of those who once fancied themselves ardent fans of the Greek-flavored ensemble; and to educate these once devotees that this is not a B2C record, and that, as such, it would be unrealistic to expect the reflective Me Died Blue to send the listener into the rapid-fire flamenco trances of the celebratory Anybody Out There?, or to resurface the Gypsy Kings-like vocal fury and percussive relentlessness of its antecessor. This record does not seek to accomplish that goal, so any preconceived notions to the contrary must be laid aside.

Displaying a more reserved acoustic sound that still manages to hint at his beginnings as the front man of said band, the Cat Stevens-inspired aura exuded by Delopoulos' voice and his folksy finger-picking are best exemplified when Steven opts for unassuming minimalism and quietude ("Here I Go Again," "Jungle Trail"), and it's during these rainy autumn moments that we capture the heart of this record, one of lonesome melancholy, dusty roads, and redemption. These touches--carried mostly by understated guitar playing, light percussion, and that smoky ambiance Monroe Jones is very adept at interspersing--give the album a seasonal feel, ideal for those breezy nights of unsung Springs, those moments where the stories told by strangers and passersby illuminate our existence with more prismatic clarity than our own.

That is not to say that this record should be written off as a moody, shoe-gazing galore of down-and-out anthems for the despondent soul. As a matter of fact, Delopoulos somehow manages to break the meditative pacing of the material with jubilant Mediterranean numbers ("Rocky Boat," "Me Died Blue"), which are rife with odd-timed meters, winning percussion, and vibrant word-pictures. He's capable of shifting into street singer mode on "Runaway Train," inviting his curbside audience to listen in on his maudlin tales of romantic mishaps, or even versed enough at pulling off an all-too-simple chorus of "ooh's" ("12 West Front Street") that still proves vital to the flow of his prose.

At the end of the day, once the dust has settled, all the handwoven panels that make up the patchwork of experiences that make up the whole of Me Died Blue reveal the heart of a world-weary traveler who knows how to gracefully and poetically straddle the fence of the mundane and the eternal in song, willing to partake with us, guitar in hand, of the ever-changing seasons of life.

Andree Farias 06/22/2003


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