Title: The Lonely Roller
Artist: Steven A. Clark
Label: Secretly Canadian
Formats: CD, MP3
Release date: September 18, 2015
Steven A. Clark is quick to narrate the central character of his newest album; that is: The Lonely Roller. On the record’s first song, Clark introduces us to The Lonely Roller through a story: the young character is in a frustrated relationship and takes a weekend trip to Las Vegas to clear his head. When he arrives, The Lonely Roller meets a potential lover who could be a pleasure-filled escape and, hell, even a little fun. The song’s chorus is a conversation as the potential lover sings, “You know I want you,” while the Lonely Roller responds, “But, I can’t be falling in love.”
This tension—between a one-time love affair and the obligations of a committed relationship—is present throughout Steven A. Clark’s release. On “Not You,” Clark sings that he wants love, but just not with his current partner. “Can’t Have,” the album’s single, laments the premature ending of a relationship and wonders what could have been. He sings, “If this was a perfect world, I would not have been distracted by them other girls, it would have been you and me.” The Lonely Roller needs love’s excitement, but lacks the maturity to handle its banal realities.
Tension, too, is present in the musical production of Clark’s release. With competing synthesizers, calculated drum machines, and danceable R&B bass-lines, Clark’s songs reach for masterful heights, yet often fall short of his intentions. “Floral Print” features a continual, ominous vamp, but as the song’s accompanying vocals crescendo in dramatic fashion, the music does little to contribute to Clark’s desired aesthetic.
But there are glimpses of greatness on Clark’s release. The first four songs on the record are nuanced and catchy, yet never saccharine—all ingredients for timeless pop music. The centerpiece of the album is Clark’s voice—a gifted falsetto that offers beautifully-understated harmonies and consistent lyricism. The resulting aesthetics remind us that, despite his penchant for a good time, The Lonely Roller is just a sensitive guy looking for love.
Listen on Spotify here.
Reviewed by Douglas Dowling Peach