US singer, songwriter and musician Steve Barton’s incoming album “Love + Destruction” contains lyrics that woke him at 3am. “They haunted me… that’s what songwriting is like sometimes. Catching smoke with a net,” he will tell you.
Taken from that album is the hypnotic new single “Freedom’s Not Free” – see the official video, below – which nods to Tom Waits, but puts Steve in his own lane.
The new album “Love + Destruction” is slated for a January or February 2021 release on Sleepless Records.
Steve is based in Portland, Oregon after stints in L.A. and San Francisco.
He made his first single when he was just 11-years-old and at 14 he was paid $25 a week to write songs. His hit band Translator were signed to a major label and in recent times he has worked at a major music publisher. He has written with Sid Griffin of The Long Ryders, among others.
Steve Barton on the single “Freedom’s Not Free”, which is out now from all the usual digital places:
“I started writing Freedom’s Not Free as protests around George Floyd were beginning. During the writing of the song, the American civil rights icon John Lewis died. The tributes to his extraordinary life were moving and heartfelt.
“I thought of him a lot as I finished it up. The line about ‘There’s a river overflowing / There’s a bridge to be crossed’ is directly about the historic march across the bridge that John Lewis was part of in the early 1960s.
“The song’s not like a newspaper article though. I think there’s a certain timelessness to the lyrics. ‘A lifetime in a moment / The moon has got a frown’ speaks about how quickly our lives can be changed.
“That verse ends with ‘A bird sings at the doorway’, which is meant to be a nod towards hope and the future. Of course, the following line is ‘The flag is upside down’, which does not indicate good times! As with many of my songs, the contrast between two things is there in the words.
“My good friend Doug Wieselman (a great composer/recording artist out of NYC) wrote and played the mind-blowing horn arrangement. I asked for “cool jazz, something like Pharaoh Sanders”. He nailed it. My drummer, Dave Scheff, came up with the perfect hypnotic groove. I play guitar and bass.”
Steve Barton on his next album “Love + Destruction”:
“I knew I wanted to do a record with a band that would be cool and challenging. These are the songs that we came up with. Dave Scheff plays drums throughout most of the album. Besides us being in Translator together, Dave has played on several of my solo albums. He’s been my secret weapon.
“Hilary Hanes handles the bass for most of the record. We’d met earlier in San Francisco when he played with Pearl Harbor & The Explosions. We reconnected when I moved to Portland, Oregon. His driving bass holds down the songs… Larry Dekker from Translator plays bass on a couple of the songs as well… an embarrassment of riches.”