A little bit of everything 

As the cliché goes, into every life a little rain must fall. The best singer-songwriters take that idea, though, and make it special.

For Steve Mayone, that cliche was literally the case. He came up with the idea for the title track when stuck in a Hurricane in the Colorado Rockies.

That song might be one of a few countryfied moments here, but it is far from being the only personal affair. Indeed “Sideways Rain” almost seems to be Mayone’s diaries in the three years it took to make.

From the death of his mother, to the suicide of his brother, but at the other end of the scale, the birth of his first child, it’s all here and all shared with the listener.

Perhaps because of the disparate themes here the music never settles on to one path. There is no, what we might call, the Mayone signature sound here, instead, there are stop offs on a journey that is all shot through with class.

Opener “Letting You Go” has a kind of Travelling Wilbury’s vibe given that it sounds like Tom Petty covering The Beatles, while“So Many Get It Wrong”, in which Mayone lays bare his wishes for his newborn son, comes on like a long lost George Harrison tune.

A clever songwriter, “What Good” is urgent folk, asking the plaintive questions, while “Long Way Home” is a classic bar room rock n roll shuffle that Dan Baird might try, and concerns itself with matter of a more lustful nature.

At its best when it is simple and shimmering, there is a latter day Ian Hunter quality to “Rescue Me”  and “Time Moves On” has an absolutely universal appeal.

Gifted with writing songs that will resonate with just about everyone that listens to them, “New Years Resolution” finds the character in the lyrics in desperate mood, as will the Latin influenced “It’s Beautiful” which proves that life is anything but.

The vast array of lyrical themes are matched only by a desire to confound musical expectations too. “Pretty Mama”  comes in with horns which mean its like Southside Johnny at 2am in a jazz club somewhere, while the gorgeous sounding “Early Morning Train” has elements of the power pop of acts like Fountains Of Wayne about it, even if the lyrics are cheerfully dark.

While some would find the light at the end of the tunnel, this collection that seems to revel in confounding expectations ends by dealing directly with suicide and doing so in the sensitive, understated way Steve Mayone has approached the rest of the album.

“Sideways Rain” possesses a rare ability to take deeply personal topics and give them a truly universal slant. Only the best can do that, and on the 13 songs here Steve Mayone has managed it with consummate skill.

Rating 8/10

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