New York, NY
It all began in Amsterdam. With his headphones blasting the Beatles “All You Need Is Love” on constant repeat, Steven Mark wandered in a haze among the life-like replications of his idols at the Rock ‘n Roll exhibit at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. It was a life changing experience. Immediately upon leaving the museum he found the nearest coffee shop and began frantically scribbling lyrics, which became songs and songs which became an album. That album was 2004’s Distraction, Steven Mark’s fuzzy psychedelic homage to 1966.
“It had never occurred to me to write my own stuff. I didn’t think I knew enough chords,” says Mark. “I’d played in a cover band for awhile, but Distraction was my first attempt at original material.” A formidable first foray into songwriting, Distraction was named one of the finest recordings of 2004 by Hybrid Magazine, and Allmusic.com described it as “music by someone who actually has something to say and knows how to say it.”
Brimming with new material, Steven Mark recorded 2005’s Aloneaphobe, a concept album about relationships loosely inspired by the film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Aloneaphobe is a contemplative folk rock album which calls to mind such acts as REM and Elliott Smith. Reviewer Mark Fisher raved: “(T)his album blows me away. There isn’t a bad song on it. Mark has that old school feel, yet he never falls into the trap of sounding dated.”
Post-Aloneaphobe, Steven Mark focused on his live show, performing frequently around New York City with his band. This band dynamic influenced much of 2007’s Racing Grey, Mark’s third album. Reeling from the loss of a loved one, he explored the themes of mortality and a pop culture in decline. Racing Grey is a mature album that grapples with the very concept of maturity. EvolutionofMedia.com said of the album, “Steven Mark has a way with a line, and he comes off pointed and witty. He deserves to stand alongside other singer/songwriters of similar skill such as Ryan Adams, Damien Rice, David Gray and Grant Lee Phillips.” ObscureSound.com said that “This is Steven Mark’s most mature and diverse effort, featuring songs that are both infectiously engrossing and lyrically in-depth.”
Steven Mark’s newest album, One Small Room, almost didn’t happen. “After Racing Grey, I was disenchanted with the constraints of playing with a full band. It wasn’t who I was anymore.” The cure for Steven Mark’s malaise? He pulled a reverse Dylan; he unplugged and went acoustic.
One Small Room was literally recorded in one small room, dubbed “The Cave,” with just him and his longtime producer/collaborator Matt Wilcox. Eschewing the rock instrumentation and social commentary that defined much of his earlier work, Steven Mark set out to create his most intimate album yet. “I wanted these songs to sound like we were just playing in someone’s living room. No electric guitars. No manifestos. Just personal songs stripped down to their emotional core.” More so than his past discography, One Small Room is dominated by the sound of Mark’s voice, with his signature vocal harmonies filling the spaces that would normally sound sparse on a stripped down acoustic album.
Equally personal is the iconic cover art; a red door and a green door, which was shot in Steven Mark’s Greenwich Village apartment. “A lot of the songs are about this major decision I was dealing with at the time and the two alternative paths I could take.”
Far from being a weighty and indecisive journey, One Small Room seeks to find the light in dark times. Even the haunting piano driven cover of Supertramp’s “The Logical Song” ends up strangely uplifting by the final chorus. What results is an album that is an intimate and personal invitation into the room of a musician who, in a sea of disposable downloads, is still making music that matters.