Steven Finn
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Steven Finn

Band Blues Singer/Songwriter


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"Beautifully simple, but so complex!"

Steve Finn is a Blues, folk and acoustic musician based in London. He picked up a guitar and started playing in his early teens after hearing Bob Dylan, and has since toured with The Beautiful South and Rough Trade. This debut acoustic album is all self-penned, with Steve also providing all the vocal and instrumentals. There is a real dichotomy in this CD in that it is beautifully simple but so complex in its lyrics! It leaves you in no doubt about the ability of Steven as a song-writer. His lyrics are profound and deep, they claw in the heart of human existence in the present day; speaking of war, loneliness, and lost hope in a world tired, struggling to make sense of itself and it’s current dilemmas. It is old Blues and folk crossing the boundaries of musical prejudice to speak to a new age. The guitar work is crisp complimenting the lyric with precision. Steven knows how to blow a harmonica and make it talk! On ‘I wish I had a friend’ the vocal tells the tale whilst the Blues harp emphasizes the meaning. ‘Heroes and Movie Stars’ is a Bluesy rock ballad, basic in instrumental, but those lyrics go deep! ‘Hail to the thief’ takes on the mindless violence of our times with raw passion. A good debut album and the songcraft throughout is excellent. - Blues Matters


It’s the middle third of nine tracks that immediately becomes ‘Houdinis’ back bone, the slide guitar of ‘Dream Song #1’ joined only by his solitary voice rising above the melody, evoking pictures of the dusty roads Finn’s traipsed returning homeward. ‘Heroes And movie Stars’ showcases Finn’s poetic, delicate visions of life, “in between the wars, showing off our battle scars,” he sings, conjuring a fantastic narrative to broach a brutal truth. ‘Hail To The Thief’ returns to the grassroots of blues, a harmonica Finn’s only accompaniment as the tremolo shifts in and around him and us, becoming all the more apparent the songs were recorded fully live.
Finn does sparse to great effect, a solitary guitar or harmonica creating something far more intense than should be possible, such as ‘I wish I had A Friend,’ executed so perfectly you imagine it could even work a-cappella. ‘All Come To Reap The Goldrush’ is Finns calling card, and a perfect ending to an album of immediate beauty. Finn exhibits enough honesty in his voice and skill in composition to create a work brimming with new ideas in an old genre.
- Subba-Cultcha

"Like Skip James"

A clean distinct folk sound not straying too far from the roots. Houdini’s Blues is an album that searches for truth, where sometimes the vocals scarily resemble that of the late Skip James.

From songs like Dream Song #1 with it’s slow but very effective searching rhythm makes way to a slapping harmonic piece like “Hail To The Theif”. This is no Radiohead cover, it’s better, it’s the real thing.

Add to the combination, classic folk singer songwriter songs like “Strong Storm Rising” and “All Come To Reap The Goldrush” with honest lyrics accompanied by graceful guitar playing and you have one mighty fine album.
- Folk blues & beyond

"Why be a sheep and not the shepherd?"

The first thing that you notice when Steven Finn's excellent album, 'Houdini's Blues', kicks off is its totally stripped down, bollock-naked form. This album, this man, seems to be going in a different direction to most of his contemporaries in the blues world! And why not, why conform, why be a sheep and not the shepherd! Steven Finn does it simple, does it real, does it mean and keeps it keen!
'Houdini's Blues' has been taken to 'unplugged' extremities; Finn has laid himself bare, this is totally exposed blues, back to basics blues. Where most blues 'men' are laying down more and more instruments, giving it the full-Monty production, mixing this, double-tracking that, dubbing here, fading there ...and more, Steven Finn has refused to be drawn in to studio embellishments and augmentation preferring instead to 'trust to good luck' that he gets it right in its simplest form. To give you an idea of where Steven Finn is taking his music how about this; using finger snaps or foot taps to provide the timing beat and/or percussive base rather than relying on drums and other, more usual percussive, hitting, striking, brushing, clanging kinda things. This is just such a laid bare outing it's almost a risk too far. But, Finn holds it all together with great songs, precise and well proportioned vocals, the odd growl and howl here and there and sparsely accompanying instrumentation - just enough and no more!! Hey, it works!! In fact, it makes a really pleasant change not to be bombarded with electric sound and unnecessary gimmickry.
'Houdini's Blues' by Steven Finn is just so simple and so easy - it brings the blues back home, back down, back into the real world, back to where it all began. Steven Finn writes with a clear understanding of life and its shortcomings and failings. His gritty yet mellow vocal delivery allows the listener full access to his words and his stories. Finn has the same sort of feel as the 'protest' singers that were so prominent in the 60's; he sings with passion, belief and sympathetic, if not empathetic, emotion. Finn feels genuine, alive to what's real, what matters and how things should be. Finn's musical world is my world, your world, our world - it all makes sense, it all comes down and it all comes around! 'Houdini's Blues' by Steven Finn is a delightfully simplistic blues offering that makes blues music once more real, accessible, believable and, what's more, enjoyable! 'Houdini's Blues' by Steven Finn is lush without the pomp and absolutely real without the circumstance - a fine and mighty work that some might call risky but many will adore for its simple form and honest execution. Rather excellent methinks!
- Toxic Pete

"A little gem"

Nine very poetic songs sung with a high, sometimes delicate voice, and backed predominantly by a simple acoustic guitar. Steven composed all the songs himself and succeeded in giving his poetic compositions a bluesy feeling. This blues element is emphasised when he uses the harmonica or dobro, like on 'Hail To The Thief', that takes us back to the authentic roots of his music. On the refined 'Dream Song', the slide guitar evokes the desolate feeling of the lost blues troubadours looking for a place to sleep. However the emphasis lies in the folky texts which are deceptively simple.

Steven uses images full of fantasy and cryptic wording to express complex feelings. A sentence like 'I'm all for peace, but I've never heard a white dove sing' is fairly profound. Whether it's hostility or friendship, war or hate striking the innocent, he sings with tremendous sensitivity as if he is literally experiencing it.

This solo album makes us think of a combination between Josh Ritter and Nick Drake or a male version of Joni Mitchell, especially the intense 'All Come To Reap The Goldrush' in which his voice reaches touching heights.

On 'Houdini's Blues', Steven sings that the line between love and hate is very thin. After listening to this CD, I can also add that the line between very beautiful and extremely beautiful can be thin. A little gem in a league of its own.
- Rootstime, Belgium

"Folk House Live review"

In this modern world it's not often you find songs so deeply cultivated in the folk and roots tradition. Timeless, yet completely relevant, these are songs you want to listen to again and again. As a performer, Steve doesn't just let his songs speak for themselves (which he could), instead backing it all up with crafted skill and dynamic delivery. - Bristol folk house

"A fantastic album"

A fantastic album from Steve Finn. This is a very cool album and well worth getting. Poignant lyrics, accompanied by great guitar and harmonica. We will be hearing more of the name "Steven Finn". Brilliant! - Folk Radio


Album - Houdini's Blues
Track listing:
Houdini's Blues
I wish I had a friend
Dream song #1
Heroes and movie stars
Hail to the thief
Strong storm rising
All come to reap the goldrush



Blues harmonica ... Bottleneck Guitar ... Vocal ... Tap shoes

Singing a mixture of self-penned and traditional songs like Spancill Hill, The January Man and Leadbelly’s Bourgeois Blues, Steven began playing in the folk clubs of Northern England when he was seventeen, two years after picking up a guitar on hearing Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr Tambourine Man’. His second ever public performance was supporting Isaac Guillory, a brilliant guitar player from New York, in the Poynton Folk Centre.

Around this time he started playing guitar for British Harmonica Champion Dave Aston. Armed with his uncle’s harmonica Steven began learning tunes by Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson and Rory McLeod, who he met at the World Harmonica Championships in Germany. How did they whoop, holler, sing and play at the same time?

After touring as support with The Beautiful South, Steven formed a band with bodhran player John Joe Kelly (from Flook) and Andrew Dinan on fiddle. Together they recorded the album ‘Before the flood’ on Small World Records in 1999 and went on a tour encompassing Ireland, the UK, America and Hong Kong.

In 2003 Steven moved to London and began playing guitar for Emiliana Torrini. They toured Europe, America, Australia and the Middle East. Amongst the highlights of this time was playing support for Elvis Costello at the Montreaux Jazz festival, playing to a packed Guardian tent at Glastonbury and performing to thousands in an old boat shed in remotest Iceland with Belle & Sebastian.

As a solo performer Steven has supported Martin Carthy, Rory McLeod, Paul Brady, Labi Siffre, Isaac Guillory, Mary Coughlan, Kathryn Tickell, and Capercaille.

Spring 2008 was spent recording his debut solo album ‘Houdini’s Blues’, sung and played live, influenced by the early field recordings he listens to made by Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins.

The album has received amazing reviews from folk, blues and roots music reviewers - reflecting its wide range of influences - and in 2009 he became an endorsed artist for Hohner Harmonicas, one of only 3 in the UK (the others being Paul Jones & Paul Lamb)