The Man I Once Was

Stewart Eastham

Long Bar Records, 2013

http://www.stewarteastham.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/04/2014

Though he now resides in Tennessee, Stewart Eastham cut his teeth playing drums in California for Minibike before making his way to being the frontman and songwriter of Day Of The Outlaw, an extension of Minibike. After setting out on his own in 2012, Eastham traded in the flashiness of Los Angeles life for the grittiness of Nashville, though ironically enough he did head back to the West Coast to record this first solo disc. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

There's no concealing that Eastham's music is firmly drenched in his new home. From the old school, honky tonk shuffling of "The Lights Of Tennessee" or the quick paced "Livin' With Bad Decisions," he's channeling genuine country music across much of The Man I Once Was. However, he's not so one dimensional to not explore other ideas. "Crazy Old World" sounds like Ryan Adams in his Heartbreaker era, "It's Understood" gets more forceful with layered rock, and "Someone New" turns the volume down for a sparse folk tune.

The genre skipping doesn't end there, though. "Crawl Up In Your Bottle" combines blues with funk-spirited Southern rock, "Let It Go" sounds like it would be sung during Sunday Mass, and "Born In California" is a fiery piano rocker. Fittingly, the lengthy album closes on the title track that begins with an acoustic guitar but exists with ebullient intensity, again exemplifying Eastham's strong songcraft.

Self-described as his 'L.A. to Nashville' album, The Man I Once Was encapsulates the best ideas of both old and new country with pedal and lap steel, key and strings and some good ol’ fashioned vocal twang and boot-stomping sounds. However, Eastham still flirts with plenty of warm and louder ideas. At an hour, there's a lot to take in here, but the amount of diversity ensures there is never a dull moment.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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