STEVEN JAMES WYLIE

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Steven James Wylie, of Franklin, Tennessee, is a former real estate developer turned singer/songwriter. Originally from Spokane, Washington, Wylie moved his family to Nashville in 2009 to begin his musical journey, a journey that has led him to the release of his impressive album titled “Everything I Love”. Enjoy our review, as well as an interview with the artist, below.

‘Everything I Love’ opens Steven James Wylie’s EP with an acoustic guitar mixed with a piano; the acoustic’s tone is very clear, and the piano’s tone is beautiful. Wylie immediately begins painting a picture with his lyrics and soon cymbal splashes and a bass join the mix. Dynamically, the song stays subtle until after the first chorus when the drums join. The electric guitar lead parts are very tasteful and are spaced out nicely, giving lots of room for all the other instrumentation to play out. The second chorus is huge, this time with lots of backing vocals and very good harmonies. The story line is basic, yet the concept is very well fleshed out; there is nothing cliche or unoriginal about this one, and the lyrical content is very sincere and honest. The piano plays a very significant part in the song, and the instrumentation builds from beginning to end nicely, ensuring that this song is on point dynamically through and throughout. ‘This Is What Faith Is’ follows with guest vocals from Christina Dente and opens spectacularly with drums, piano, bass, and acoustic guitar. The verse chord progression is very original, as is Wylie’s use of repetition at the end of each verse line. The backing vocals from Dente add a lot of support on this track, and her voice is featured prominently in the second verse as well. The main tag/hook was captivating, and the track was done so well overall (production, recording quality, mix, songwriting). The bass play was excellent, the instrumentation was solid, and everything was on time and on pitch within this song that was eerily reminiscent of early Casting Crowns material. These two tracks to open the EP are extremely impressive and there are only good things to be said about them. The memorable chorus lyrics on ‘This Is What Faith Is’ were intelligent and certainly appropriate for the song’s subject matter; the extended outro, unique, dissonant bridge (which changed the song’s time signature), and the lead guitar’s main riff were all memorable pieces to this puzzle.

‘Butterfly’ featured a new, slower groove complete with drums and an electric guitar; the vocal performance, which began shortly after the song’s introduction, was impressive. The song featured an easy to follow story line, detailing the immediate change that occurred once Wylie’s daughter was born, and was reinforced positively through repetition of the song’s ideals and main points. The instrumentation was stellar again on this shorter track, including a simple, laid-back lead guitar line in the bridge; again, this song is a very short one, so don’t blink or otherwise you’ll miss it completely. ‘Flower’ was acoustic guitar-led and featured great changes and intriguing chord progressions and shapes. This is a perfect example of a true love song, containing great metaphors and powerful, emotional lyrics. A first verse of acoustic and vocals laid a solid foundation for the bass and piano to join on a down chorus, enhancing the attitude and overall mood. This song is very well done all-around and showcased awesome falsetto parts in the choruses; this was one of the better examples on the album of Wylie’s talent and musical diversity. ‘Beautiful Souls’ closed the EP with an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and bass opening the song with somewhat of a somber tone. The first verse is incredibly open and ambient, and the lyrics and story line were expressive. Harmonics played on the acoustic guitar added a very pleasing touch, and throughout the song instruments join and exit the mix in a very tasteful way. This album is an absolutely fantastic representation of Wylie’s skills as well as of what this artist can do as a singer and songwriter. I expect to be hearing a lot more from Steven James Wylie, and I love these recordings. Each of them is a beautiful representation of Wylie’s writing and performance style, and I couldn’t be more impressed with “Everything I Love”. 

Could you give us some insight into your background? What led you to move to Nashville and pursue your dreams as a recording artist?

“I grew up playing drums and singing in church (from the time I was) 13 years old. When I was 23 the whole church scene kind of blew up and dissolved; it left me a bit jaded and also eliminated my main outlet for music. So I got married and started into the world of real estate development with the thought that my creative side had probably seen its best days and I should move on. It wasn’t an enjoyable feeling but it seemed true. When the real estate market burned down it brought me back to a place of self-examination. I realized this musical, creative streak in me wasn’t going to go away just because I thought it should. It would continue to torment me until I gave it some room to breath. As I realized this, I chose to visit Nashville and compete in a GMA music event in the summer of 2009. My friend Evan and I went together and we won “best group duo”. At the same time I realized, immediately, that I loved Nashville and wanted to move my family there. So here we are now; it’s been a wild ride for sure.”

What can you tell us about the Seattle and Nashville music scenes? What aspects and qualities do you seek to implement from either (or both) of these musical areas and styles into your music?

“Seattle is a very independent-feeling place and the music reflects that. It’s the nature of the northwest, really: the rock and roll roots in Seattle are the strongest flavor you get from that area. Nashville, on the other hand, has such a rich and much longer heritage of country music and the music business in general which finds its way into everything. For me it’s about keeping that alt rock thing that I grew up loving and blending it with the country vibe that I enjoy here in Nashville.”

What inspired the writing and recording of your EP “Everything I Love”?

“The songs for this EP were written between 2009 and 2010. As I looked over my catalogue of songs from that season, these five seemed to go well together. I felt like this EP was a good foundational piece of work that laid out what I was finding to actually have value in life.”

What does 2014 hold in store for you? Do you have any recording dates or live performances lined up at this time?

“Right now I’m working on a side project for my band RED CABIN. It’s a going to take a while but I’m enjoying the process. It’s a much more ambient, cinematic-sounding record. I’m also working on my first novel as well. My wife, Morgan Wylie, writes fantasy and paranormal fiction which has inspired me to jump in and explore that side of my creativity. This novel will tie into her present series which is called “The Age Of Alandria”. I don’t have much set up in the way of live shows or anything of that nature right now; that can and will probably change over time. The whole situation here is still evolving as we balance living and working full-time on our creative endeavors. I do have two other projects that are half done and I’m letting them simmer a bit in my mind as I decide what to do with them. There’s not enough hours in the day to do everything I’d like to right now, so I’m just trying to focus on a couple of them and get them done. It’s a great time for us. We are very blessed.”

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