Steve Holt,
The Dream
(Trilogy, 2002)

Steve Holt recorded as a jazz pianist in the early '90s, but it's apparently always been a dream of his to do a pop album as a vocalist. After retiring young from a successful career as an investment analyst, he decided to co-produce an album in a private studio created for the occasion. The result, appropriately enough, is called The Dream.

Holt shows some potential as a songwriter and arranger, but he doesn't have the voice to display those talents at their best.

Songwriters without strong voices are often able to record their own material with some success, and I'm a fan of even some anti-voice singers like Dr. John. So I can't fault Holt for giving it a try. He's also to be congratulated on his choice of production personnel and backup musicians. The album has the sound of a solid pop outing and I would have liked to hear more of the very fine Sovereign Voice choir, guitarist Sean Baillie and trumpeter Steve Turcotte. But it's Holt up front from start to finish in romantic ballads, of which he wrote all but two. Here's a typical excerpt from the title track:

"Life will tap you on the shoulder as it passes through
While I sit and wonder what you'll do
Maybe the dream you have will always be a dream
But I say the dream's already true."

Perhaps because of his background as a pianist, the melodies are stronger than the lyrics. "Soon" is the best track. It has a nice Brazilian feel and I could see it being covered by others. But whatever the album's strengths, its success depends on Holt's voice. Intonation, projection and phrasing are all problems and there's nothing in the tonal quality or delivery to compensate. Holt would have done a lot better to rein himself in and stop at writing, arranging and producing. With a singer as good as the other musicians on the album, he might have had something.

- Rambles
written by Ron Bierman
published 1 February 2003