CD Review: Stephen Covell “Longing for the Hills”

Posted: October 4, 2017 in Music
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stephencovell3For the last dozen years or so, Stephen Covell has been creating music. The Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter has been creating music that is deeply influenced by Folk-Rock. The Folk-Rock style goes well with the writer’s storyteller side of his personality. Because of that, the songs that Covell writes seem very close to stories set to music.

Some of the songs that Stephen Covell includes on his releases have a slight reference to the military in them. That is because Stephen Covell spends part of his time as a musician performing his own material and at other times, Covell is one of the active members of an organization called Operation: Encore, A Veteran Music Project. Operation: Encore is very close to Covell’s heart as the organization helps to support current or ex-military members who are looking for something to do outside of the military world that so many are part of.

As a part of the military, Stephen Covell was a U.S. Army combat medic. As a musician, some of Covell’s songs are very deeply steeped in the civilian mindset; the mindset of enjoying time while back on American soil.

As part of Operation: Encore, Stephen Covell has written several songs that have made their way onto the two current releases that help to promote the music of the artists that are part of the organization. In fact, one of Covell’s tracks ended up becoming the title track of the group’s newest release called Monuments. And along with “Monuments,” one other track from those two compilations is now included in Covell’s newest CD, a five-song EP called Longing for the Hills.

Longing for the Hills by Stephen Covell begins with the track “Ruled by You”. A Rock and Roll track that features an easy, Folk-like pace to the music, “Ruled By You” is a track that finds Covell creating a song that comes across as a love song. The easy pace to the music and the emotional feel of the lyrics helps create a track that feels ready-made for the radio. In fact, “Ruled by You” has enough of a Folk feel to the music that the song seems to have a slight twang to it, making it perfect for “crossover” potential for both Country and Pop-rock radio formats.

The new EP from Stephen Covell continues with the song “We Guards Stood Our Watch”. One of the more personal tracks on the release, “We Guards Stood Our Watch” finds Covell asking why others get to enjoy themselves when those on duty choose to keep watch? The music to the track features a much softer feel to the music. In fact, the almost orchestral feel to the music adds both a slight gentleness to the track and an emotional tug at the heart, as well.

Stephen Covell includes the first of the two Operation: Encore compilation tracks next. Having been included on the organization’s first release, the track “Sand Hills to Sandals” is the perfect track, lyrically, to follow “We Guards Stood Our Watch”. Like the track before it, “Sand Hills to Sandals” deals with military life. However, with this track, Covell focuses on the more upbeat and positive side of life as he sings about being home from overseas and being able to enjoy the things he could not enjoy while on duty; things like going to the beach. While the track does offer a happier side to life than “We Guards Stood Our Watch,” Covell also mentions more sober things like dedicating a toast to those who never made it home. The music to “Sand Hills to Sandals” is once again rather laidback in its nature. The folk music seems to have the best choice for accompanying the semi-sweet lyrics to the track. While “Sand Hills to Sandals” is one of the more laidback tracks on Longing for the Hills, it’s also one of the strongest tracks on the release.

Following the first of the Operation: Encore compilation tracks on Stephen Covell’s new release is the second one entitled “Monuments”. This is the track that was chosen as the title track for the 2017 release from the organization. “Monuments” from Stephen Covell is the hardest rocking track on the singer-songwriter’s new album. Like the other tracks on the five-song release, “Monuments” contains a strong folk influence to the music by way of things like the addition of the mandolin. However, this track finds Covell and the other musicians who helped create the EP adding a lot of Rock and Roll feel to the music. The track comes across as something that may have recorded by The Eagles. The Pop-Rock style of the music on the track makes the song one of the most commercial moments on the release. “Monuments” could easily be the single off of the release. Stephen Covell changes directions completely for the final track on the five-song EP.

The final track of Monuments, “Winter of My Soul,” is an Eric Clapton-inspired track that features a slow-paced Blues-flavored approach. The track includes some very Bluesy guitar playing that would make Clapton proud. While “Winter of My Soul” comes out of nowhere when compared to the rest of the release, the track proves that Stephen Covell has a wide array of influences to draw from. And those helped Covell to create a very strong release from the first note to the last.

His impressive background notwithstanding, Stephen Covell’s new five-song release, Longing for the Hills, is a testimony to the talent that is sometimes hidden within the most unlikely people. And with the five tracks on the new release being different from one song to the next, that talent really shines in this release. Having already released several other albums thus far, this five-song EP would be a great place to discover the talented singer-songwriter named Stephen Covell.

To hear the music of Stephen Covell, check out the song “Monuments“. For more reading about Operation Encore, check out the review for the first album, the second release of Monuments, the review for Rachel Harvey Hill, the review for Andrew Wiscombe and the review of Steve D. Wilson

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