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Wednesday
Jun082016

"Someday/Somehow", by Steve Porcaro

It was seven years ago that we first had the opportunity to interview Steve Porcaro for Inside MusiCast.  While we were honored to have Steve on the show, little did we know he was going to present us with the opportunity to premiere music from his impending solo project.  If you heard the interview, you’ll recall hearing the tracks “Ready Or Not” and “Painting By Numbers” in demo form.  At the time, they were sounding really good to our ears, but they were far from complete.

As we inch closer to this Friday’s release of Steve’s debut solo album “Someday/Somehow”, I can’t help but to imagine the joy and relief Steve must be feeling for this album to finally see the light of day.  Between his work scoring televisions shows and rejoining Toto for lengthy tours and studio work, the past several years have been busy enough to impede the progress of arguably the most important moment of his career, that being the release of his first solo record.  Of course, we all know Steve’s work with Toto, but with Luke and Paich sharing the heavy load in the songwriting department, Steve’s footprint and vocal duties were sprinkled lightly throughout the band’s catalog.  Now, for the first time in his more than four decade career, we finally get to hear his heart, soul - and yes, even quite a bit of his voice - spread across 13 beautiful tracks on “Someday/Somehow”.

Track 01: “Ready Or Not”.  We knew this one right away, as this is one of the tracks Steve shared with us back in 2009.  It’s a perfect track to start the album with, as it’s signature Steve Porcaro right out of the gate.  The track has a steady, mid tempo, melodic swing in 7 and features Steve on lead vocals.  Written by Steve, co-producer Michael Sherwood and Jamie Kimmett, the lyrics focus on Steve’s children in the days when they were young, playing hide and seek, and missing them when he was out on the road.  Musicians on “Ready Or Not” include brother Mike Porcaro on bass, Lenny Castro on percussion, Shannon Forrest on drums, Marc Bonilla on guitar and Michael Sherwood on backing vocals.

Track 02: “Loved By A Fool”.  If I can compare this track to anything Steve has done in the past, I’d most likely refer to “It’s A Feeling” from Toto IV.  With a similar mood, it harkens an element of suspicion and despair, all packaged in a curiously bright, mid tempo story about an unbalanced relationship that turns deceitful and ultimately dysfunctional. Robin Dimmagio handles drum duties, Lenny Castro lays down percussion, Michael Sherwood provides backing vocals and Steve Porcaro again takes-on lead vocals. 

Track 03: “Someday/Somehow”.  The track begins with a bright, arpeggiated synth that leads into a gentle acoustic guitar and transitions into a dreamy, melodic mix of flowing vocals and orchestrated synth.  “Someday Somehow” tells the story of a relationship on the verge of falling apart and raises the question, “Do you remember how it used to be?”  Musicians on this track include Sam Porcaro on bass, Jimmy Haun on guitar, Lenny Castro and Robin Dimaggio on percussion, Michael Sherwood and Steve provide backing vocals and Don Markese handled the clarinet section.

Track 04: “Swing Street”: Yet another collaborative effort by Steve Porcaro and his right hand man, Michael Sherwood, this track features a familiar voice - the one and only Michael McDonald.  Sounding a bit raspier in his vocal approach, McDonald is undeniable and a perfect fit for this track.  The track also features his brother Mike Porcaro on bass, along with contributions from Toss Panos on drums, Luke and Jimmy Haun on guitars, Lenny Castro on percussion, Carl Saunders on trumpet and Michael Sherwood lends backing vocals. 

Track 05: “She’s So Shy”: When Steve allowed us to play his early demo of “Painting By Numbers” back in 2009, we learned about vocalist Jamie Kimmett.  While Mabvuto Carpenter assumed lead vocals on that track for the song’s final release, Jamie Kimmett’s expressive and gorgeous voice fronts “She’s So Shy.”  Co-written by Steve, Michael Sherwood and Jamie Kimmett, the song’s slow groove flows effortlessly with help from Mike Porcaro on bass, Shannon Forrest on drums, Marc Bonilla on guitars, Lenny Castro on percussion, drum loops by Mike Biardi, with Steve, Michael Sherwood and Jamie Kimmett supply backing vocals.

Track 06: “Back To You”:  Not only did Steve step up the tempo on this track, but it includes layers of whirling synth - something we’ve come to appreciate with these touches with Toto over the years.  There’s a cool break midway through that includes a pennywhistle solo by Don Markese that leads into an additional synth break by Porcaro.  Michael Sherwood lends backing vocals on this track, as well.  This is the track that was resurrected from the 1980’s that didn’t make the cut for a Toto album and features brothers Mike Porcaro on bass and Jeff Porcaro on drums.

Track 07: “Face Of A Girl”: This track again features Jamie Kimmett’s delicate and soaring vocals - again a perfect fit.  I’ll admit that Jamie’s approach on this track is slightly reminiscent to that of a Michael Jackson ballad, which makes perfect sense from a writing perspective given Steve’s association with Jackson.  Brother Mike Porcaro is credited with bass on this track, along with Robin Dimaggio on drums, Marc Bonilla on guitars, percussion by Lenny Castro, drum loops by Mike Biardi and Michael Sherwood, Jamie Kimmett and Steve Porcaro provide backing vocals.

Track 08: “To No One”:  Steve wrote this song around the same time he wrote “Bend”, a song that appeared as the bonus track on the Japanese release of Toto’s “XIV”.  While this track only includes Haun’s guitar, Steve and Michael Sherwood’s backing vocals and Steve’s synth and lead vocals, it emits an incredibly delicate, flowing and eventually expansive arrangement.  This track grabbed me from the first pick of Jimmy Haun’s acoustic guitar - a gentle, almost lullaby style in 3 that progresses into Steve’s quiet vocal.  “To No One” was written with his brothers in mind, along with Steve’s personal self-doubt about his atheism.  This track bears Steve’s soul and lands as one of my favorite songs on the album.

Track 09: “Make Up”:  If it weren’t for Michael Sherwood, I have a feeling we may not be seeing the release of “Someday Somehow” in 2016.  Michael admitted during our recent interview that he lit the proverbial fire to get Steve motivated to take time to finish the album.  It worked, and Michael played an integral role with co-producing and providing backing vocals on several tracks.  Sherwood assumed the role of lead vocalist on this somewhat haunting tale of a relationship of lost romance and desperation.  Don Markese provides an important role on flute, which is the underlying voice that paints this haunting intrigue.  Robin Dimaggio’s drum loops kick the track off, with guitars provided by Jimmy Haun, bass by Mike Porcaro, and Steve provides backing vocals.

Track 10: “She’s The One”: Steve began writing this track in the 80’s after catching a Crosby, Stills and Nash concert that included James Newton Howard on keys.  You can certainly hear elements of Howard’s style on this track, along with a Crosby-esque approach to the vocal harmonies and chord progressions.  This song features two instrumental stretches – one during the intro and one at the end.  The instrumental section at the end of the track is cinematic, powerful and once again displays Steve’s signature strength with a varying display of synth programming.  Steve’s piano intro, along with Don Markese’s flute lead sets the stage for the rest of the piece.  Shannon Forrest is behind the kit, Steve Lukather adds his guitar magic, Lenny Castro’s percussion is ever present as the song begins to build, and Michael Sherwood lends backing vocals. Musically, this is a brilliant song and one of the strongest arrangements on the album.

Track 11: “Night Of Our Own”:  Michael McDonald is back to take on lead vocals on this slow-tempo ballad.  Of all the tracks on the album, this one has radio airplay written all over it.  Combined with Michael’s recognizable voice, “Night Of Our Own” is an easy listening, straightforward track that would appeal to the masses.  The arrangement fits well within the confines of a pop song, but I could also imagine it skirting the country format - perhaps with a few changes in instrumentation.  That withstanding, this is a gorgeous arrangement and performed beautifully with Rick Marotta on drums, Steve Lukather and Jimmy Haun on guitars, Lenny Castro once again adds percussion, John Van Tongeren adds additional support on synths, and Jamie Kimmett and Steve Porcaro provide backing vocals. 

Track 12: “Painting By Numbers”:  This track is near and dear to me, as it was one of the demo tracks Steve allowed us to hear back in 2009.  At the time, Jamie Kimmett’s vocals were used, but Mabvuto Carpenter assumed the lead vocal role for the album version.  Mabvuto has such an angelic sound that blends in so nicely with the feel of this track.  You know this is a Steve Porcaro track when you initially hear his synth programming come into play.  Michael Sherwood and Steve Porcaro provide the backing vocals on this track, which are very prominent and play an important role in supporting the lead.  Jamie Kimmett also lends backing vocals on the bridge.  Steve Lukather once again adds guitar, Robin Dimaggio is on drums and additional percussion, and Lenny Castro adds percussion.

Track 13: “More Than I Can Take”:  The songs Steve wrote for this album that involve thoughts about his brothers are, in my opinion, the strongest and most gripping.  Many of us know the story of Steve, his brothers and his family, along with the tragedies they’ve experienced through the losses of brothers Jeff and Mike.  Knowing this, you might expect a symphony of instrumentation to better describe the emotions of these experiences.  “More Than I Can Take” is just Steve and his piano, yet the emotion overflows through this simplicity, along with the lyrics that describe his personal tribulations.  This is a fitting song to close the album, as when the track ends and there is silence, the emotion lingers and it give you a chance to catch your breath and reflect on the pain, the emotion and the thoughts that linger in one’s mind after such experiences. 

A lifetime in the making, “Someday/Somehow” is as complete a debut solo album as you could imagine.  Contained within these songs are decades of musical simmering, various personal experiences and a maturity that are rare in an initial solo outing.  I often wondered why Steve has waited so long to provide his fans with a collection of his solo work, but in the end this album isn’t as much about providing for his fans as it is about providing for himself - a chance to release the music that’s been building in his soul for decades, along with an outlet for personal, musical cleansing.  Thankfully, this Friday we will all be the benefactors of this very special album project that will finally see the light of day.  An appropriate title indeed, “Someday/Somehow.”

To order your copy of “Someday/Somehow”, please visit steveporcaromusic.com.

- Rick Such

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