Proponent of six-string versatility opens his family album to display the variety of stunning portraits.
It’s a poignant offering that’s all the stronger for the angle of these ten tracks. If "The Manhattan Blues Project" found The Deacon in the company of famous aficionados of his track record who only outlined their hose influence and contrasted the constant of Steve’s method, “Before The Lights Go Out” is focused on Hunter – because there’s a personal approach to each piece, “personal” meaning a tune as a dedication to particular individual, a part of his life. Such an approach speaks volumes of the guitarist, blistering as ever but legally blind now – this is the meaning behind the album’s title and this is why “On The Edge Of Uncertainty” is able to define its wobbly warmth.
The opener’s delicious drone – a precursor of sorts to the fluid folk of raga-driven, mesmeric “Under The Bodhi Tree” which would unfold to rock hard – is resolved in a mighty twang, where every weighty note lingers on, suspended in the air, until funky splashes feed revved up frenzy into the cut. But whereas “The Other Side Of The Coin” rumbles in muscular manner, and an expressive, momentum-amassing shuffle propels “Softtail Deuce” to the ultimate exhilaration, Hunter’s six strings blisffully dancing with themselves, the acoustic “Tienes Mi Corazón (You Have My Heart)” has tenderness woven into the serenade’s melodic fabric before a shift to ska brings about electric charge.
“Mojo Man” may see Joe Satriani knocking on Steve’s doors for a high-spirited exchange of effervescent riffs and arresting licks, while the wah-wah wigout on solo feels deliberately reserved, as does the solemn simmering of “Summer’ Eve” which is as exciting and slightly patinated as a reverie about past romance, yet similar harmonic lines will be distilled on “Cinderblock” to the filigree country blues. Even when gentle ripples render “Ice Storm” otherworldly fragile, the drift doesn’t get cold, its chill merely thrilling, although there’s immense sadness to “Happy Trails” where the artist’s wife Karen Hunter appears briefly with the only vocal performance to bid retro-styled farewell to the lights.
Still, whether they’re gone out or not, Steve’s music should carry on: what’s light after all all if not a wave – just like sound.