Some of you may be more familiar with Steve Burns from his roughly six year stint as the host of children’s show ‘Blues Clues’ but in 2002 he made the decision to leave the show, in later years he cited several reasons but largely he knew he was losing his hair and didn’t want to go bald on television.
After leaving the show he went into seclusion, he kept such a low profile that rumours of his death circulated but he didn’t die and in August 12th 2003 he released his first album and kicked off his burgeoning musical career.
‘Mighty Little Man’ is a nice little track, very warped and surreal to start off, very electro inspired, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Mr Blues Clues but this is an impressive first musical venture, I could easily hear this track on the soundtrack of some early 2000’s TV show and it would be a perfect candidate for a live performance. I’m not sure quite what I like about this track, it’s just really well put together especially for a debut album and Steve Burns has a decent enough voice more than good enough to launch a successful music career. I’ll reserve the number one spot till I’ve heard the rest but I think this will rank highly on my personal favourites for this album.
‘What I Do on Saturday’ different from the last track, this has more of a funky rock vibe, again i’d say it wouldn’t be amiss in the soundtrack of a movie or TV show, it just has a certain quality that would lend itself to visuals really well. This track is much slower than the last one as well, but it doesn’t drag in, it works really well and sets a very distinct tone which I enjoyed greatly. I ended up listening to this a bunch once I’d heard it, and I get the feeling that most people who listen to ‘Songs for Dustmites’ will also keep going back to this track, it’s not the best on the album but it’s a leveller, that draws you back to the centre regardless of mood before and that’s far harder to achieve than you’d think.
‘Maintain’ is more acoustic than the past two tracks, Steve Burns has a very raspy vocal range but it suits this song perfectly and it suits the electro-acoustic number really well. I have to hand it to Burns especially for a first album all the tracks so far have been really well put together, they don’t sound overproduced but don’t have that garage band quality that can sometimes be good but also are a hallmark of not quite knowing what to do yet.
‘>1’ Now even a few notes in I knew I was going to like this track, it’s slow like the second track but the tone is different, far more melancholic and yet strangely hopeful, I really liked the percussive tapping in the background, it added a really real live performance quality to the track that somehow made it seem more genuine, it’s a bit like when you heard a proper recording at it’s got laughing at the end, it just adds to the reality. The standout for this track had to be the guitar though which at times was just beautiful.
‘Troposphere’ the intro which was reverb and echo set this track up perfectly, it wasn’t unsettling like reverb sometimes can be instead it built up perfectly, it also reminded me of something I’m sure I heard in Scrubs but that only made me like the track more. The tune and rhythm of this track were superb, I think I liked this track a lot more for the instrumental parts than the singing although the singing parts were good here as well, in fact they were some of the strongest on the album.
‘Stick Around’ has another strong intros and it was about this track that I really realised just how much I liked the way Steve Burns makes music, something about it just works with me. Sure his singing voice isn’t the greatest you’ll ever hear but you’d be surprised by what you get used to, and he’s good enough that when you take the whole song in as a whole its just great. This song in particular makes it onto my personal favourite list for this album, it follows the trend of the last few songs of being a little slow, but not too slow, and this one uses the strings really well to evoke alot of emotions, its a strong song and bridges the gap between the first and second half of the twelve track album perfectly.
‘A Reason’ balances and harmonises between the vocals and the guitar perfectly, blending the two in a way that was truly enjoyable to hear. A song about love that manages not to be boring about it, that’s the really impressive thing about this track. I also found myself listening to this again and again much like with ‘What I Do on Saturday’ because something about it just connected with me.
‘Music for Montgomery County, PA’ Such a specific name for a song I was interested straight away, and it opens too an eerie almost alien theme, full of reverb and jangling notes, no vocals though. Its a good interlude that doesn’t break the progress of the album so much as give you a break.
‘A Song for Dustmites’ the titular song of the album, very classic in comparison to some of the other tracks but welcome because it shakes things up and keeps it fresh. I liked this track a lot in part because it’s relatively simple but also pleasing to listen to. I never really thought a song about dust mites…or even one for dust mites could be so beautiful but Steve Burns manages it.
‘Superstrings’ kicks into gear with a lot of deliberate stops, it creates a very rocky vibe, and this is a track where Steve Burns vocals particularly stand out, as I’ve mentioned before he’s a good singer but not amazing, but this raises the bar for him and shows what he’s capable of. I liked that this was a very upbeat rocky track, particularly after a few slower ones it gave the album a fresh zeal as we approach the last few songs.
‘A Snivelling Mess’ has a very unique intro as it blends a lot of things, all I can say it’s very animated, right up until Steve Burns raspy voice breaks in and carries us through the song. I didn’t quite appreciate it as much as the rest of the song on the album but by no means is it bad, in fact on repeated listens I really started to like it but still I do have to say that it just didn’t impress me as much as some of the others.
‘Henry Krinkle’s Lament’ As the closing track on what I don’t hesitate to say is a really strong album ‘Henry Krinkle’s Lament’ does its job, least of all because it appeals to my love of song titles that are esoteric or clever or funny. Stepping back from the name it’s as good as any on the album, it maintains a lot of the same sound and style as many of the tracks on the album but doesn’t get lost or sound repetitive.
So that’s what I have to say about Steve Burns debut album ‘Songs for Dustmites’ and if you want to get yourself a copy then you can buy it on Amazon amongst other places and if you want to have a listen before you buy then you can check it out on Spotify.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org