Crafted through COVID: Steve Marriner’s ‘Hope Dies Last’

If you don’t think Steve Marriner’s “Hope Dies Last” will float, you haven’t listened to it.
Photo by Scott Doubt

A first listen of Steve Marriner’s “Hope Dies Last” leads to a second, a third and, well, you see where we’re going with this.

The Canadian artist opens with a Pretenders-meets-Bad Company ‘70s-styled rocker, “Take Me To The City.” Pretty cool song.

Next comes a bust-out laughing surprise, Tom Petty’s “Honey Bee.” Consider us stung over. Now it’s time to stop critiquing and just listen to it all and enjoy.

This is one of so many great albums created during the 2020 year of lost live music.

“I had decided a couple of weeks into the pandemic that I should use my new-found downtime to learn how to engineer and mix recordings,” Marriner said in a press statement. “I’d been producing records and doing session work for a bunch of artists, and I’ve sat beside some incredible engineers in my career. Turns out, I absorbed ton of what I was witnessing.”

“Hope Dies Last” is Marriner’s solo follow-up album to 2007’s “Going Up.” In the meanwhile, he’s played in a duo with world-blues virtuoso Harry Manx, Manx Marriner Mainline, and in a multiple award winning trio, “Monkey Junk.”

Marriner’s made a lot of friends. There are 15 guest artists – eight vocalists — on the new record filled with harmonies.

After Marriner sets up the listener for a vintage rock album, he sails in various directions. One constant is solid melodies.

“Enough” is a duet that could fit on a half-dozen different genre radio stations, especially Outlaw Country with Jim Bowskill on pedal steel and Samantha Martin purring like Lucinda Williams.

A jazzy guitar instrumental, “Uptown Lockdown,” offers an urban ambiance without leaving the house. “Petite Dance” is a syncopated Little Feat-flavored song sung in French. Marriner is from Ottawa, Ontario.

In an era of outstanding new music, Steve Marriner’s “Hope Dies Last” stands out.

-Tim Parsons

  • Steve Marriner
  • ‘Hope Dies Last’
  • Label: Stony Plain Records
  • Release: July 2, 2021
  • Favorite tracks: ‘Enough,’ ‘Petite Danse’

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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