MP Cavalier is co-host of the weekly DoItIndy Radio Hour and has become a fixture in the Indianapolis music scene. He has reviewed the releases of several other Indianapolis bands and artists in recent months and I always enjoy reading his take on their music. MP is more of a rock and roll guy, so I am especially pleased with what he noticed and appreciated on the album.
If you’ve seen Steve Boller perform over the last few years, you’ve heard an
introspective singer-songwriter with a clean first tenor and a crisp guitar style whose
songs stand out from the open-mic pack. Boller has now honed those songs into his year-
in-the-making first album “Let’s Begin”. Boller’s debut will set most people’s
expectations on their ears – it is a fully arranged pop record that paints some wide strokes
of neon over his pleasingly pastel songs.
Boller’s compositional abilities have never been in question, but his prowess as an
arranger have never really been given a full airing at his live performances, which have
traditionally been as a solo. So, even a veteran of multiple gigs will be hearing “Let’s
Begin” as an entirely new experience from an artist they only thought they were familiar
From the a capella opener “Capsize” through the arena-ready pop of “Take What You
Need”, Boller’s bigger sound finds him shaking off the stigma of “acoustic guitar guy”.
“I wanted to create music that sounds like the music I like to listen to,” he says. The
album is designed for a new Steve Boller audience. “I wanted to set the bar high for what
my music will be… and set a different expectation for these yet-to- be-reached ears.”
Indeed it isn’t until “Inukshuk” that the more familiar Steve Boller even shows up, with a
simpler, stripped down arrangement much closer to the pub-crawler sound he may be
trying to get away from. On “Look Back On,” as giant choruses are enveloped in layered
vocals, it becomes harder to imagine most of the “Let’s Begin” songs in the bar-
stool format. But there’s a comfort level that Boller and producer Jonathan Class seem to
have established within the arrangements, as if this is how these songs were always
supposed to be. The production team took some chances, as well. Introducing electric
guitars and drums are one thing, but Boller doesn’t stop there. Horns and Hammond
organ abound throughout “Let’s Begin”.
“And Then The Tears,” and “Never a Mistake” benefit the most from the augmentations.
Already radio friendly pop songs, these two particularly stand-out as Boller’s most fully
realized songs lyrically, but his abilities as a vocalist are what get you paying attention to
those words. Capable of a clear-as-glass falsetto, Boller doesn’t overuse it as a gimmick.
His tricks as a writer and singer are all dispersed economically throughout the record so
that there are eyebrow-raising moments even at the very end.
While the album would stand on its adult-pop laurels alone, Boller’s ballads are really his
strongest suit. “Airplane Mode” is a piano-led torch song that is nearly overwhelmed by
its building string arrangement – but when Boller pulls the song back at the end – it feels
like the victory of a singular artist over multiple externalizations of his art. And that may
be the dichotomy at the heart of this record. It will be interesting to see if Steve Boller
can ever go back to the bar-stool, especially after the pop-grandeur of “Let’s Begin”.
Follow and listen to MP on The DoItIndy Radio Hour. New episodes air Monday evenings at 8 pm ET. I will be on the show next Monday, July 25th!
If you live in or near Indianapolis, grab ticket snow for the album release show, July 30th at the Hi-Fi!