The Memory Game is the new record from Newfoundland and Labrador songwriter Steve Maloney. Produced by Joshua Van Tassel, the release features Drew Jurecka, AE Bridger, The Weather Station‘s Tamara Lindeman and members of Great Lake Swimmers, leading to a vivid, expertly crafted sound where melancholy is tempered by a certain lightness.
Opener ‘Devotion’ serves as the perfect introduction, Maloney’s vocals deep and rich and almost mournful. However, the instrumentation is shot through with a brightness which conjures hope or wonder, an inextinguishable thread that strings together the entire album. The slow, folky yearning of ‘Highway Sketch’ is followed by ‘Exits’, a track lit bright and electric, reminiscent of the insistent emotion of Shearwater.
“If we can’t conquer the ends,
we’re slipping over time and time again,
’til nothing seems enough to satisfy the time left
the kindest thing that you could do
is tear it down and turn it into something new”
‘The Disenchanted Age’ returns to a more restrained brand of folk, a slow-motion sinuosity flicking behind Maloney’s croon, before the strikingly simple ‘No One Loves You (Like I Do)’ written by John Lennox, all acoustic guitar and Maloney’s velvety and yearning vocals. This is followed but the delicate intricacy of ‘Passing Phase’ which plays like VSF-fave Psalmships with an added dose of sunlight, before ‘No Warmth Against the Light’ brings a morose moment made cinematic with glorious strings and gliding piano. The cinematic edge continues into closer ‘Only Sometimes’, which again highlights Maloney’s ability to craft atmospheric arrangements, the vocal harmonies and gloomy grandeur capping off what is an unquestionably evocative album.
The Memory Game is out now and you can buy it from the Steve Maloney Bandcamp page.