“Rear View Mirror” from Steve Markwardt
Like Willie Nelson songs? Enjoy that boot-scootin’ high from George Strait or Alan Jackson? Well, you will find a real treat in the new country hit “Rear View Mirror” from one of Texas’ most exciting indie artists, Steve Markwardt. A hot track from his debut album, Home Again, Markwardt wastes no time at all in sewing together traditional country chords to ignite a unique fire within the listener’s heart. You can also dance to it, too.
The kind of song that you want to hum-along to all night and hope someone hits the number to play the jukebox with it just one more time, “Rear View Mirror” checks many musical boxes. Among the wish-list items it checks off is a searing, audacious melodic guitar riff. I found “Rear View Mirror” to have a rewarding afterglow – the sound just sings to you even hours later.
On Home Again, Markwardt worked with producer/musician Dave Nachmanoff. Nachmanoff’s impressive resume includes collaborating with Al Stewart, as well as releasing more than 10 solo albums and garnering a 2001 Just Plain Folks Award and Portland Songwriting Association Award (also in 2001). Though not apparent on “Rear View Mirror” Markwardt enlisted award-winning musicians Mark Abbott (fiddle) and Boo Miller (Pedal Steel Guitar) on Home Again. They can be heard on “They Put The Western Into Western Swing”, which, along with six other songs were nominated for the Academy of Western Artists (AWA) Will Rogers awards in 11 categories.
Perhaps the Home Again reference is the return to country roots, to honor the Texas sonic base. I felt that in “Rear View Mirror”. Markwardt’s voice is genuine. In the chorus, I haven’t left yet, but I may as well be gone, as you get smaller, my tomorrow’s getting clearer, I’ll see you in my rear view mirror, you have a man taking stock of the relationship. He hasn’t left yet – he can’t abandon his commitment but he’s wrestling with the wrongs. Markwardt’s own voice appears to be mixed underneath his own – a refreshingly honest harmony. In fact the whole song is packaged ever so perfect, it’s hard to not walk away feeling like he did this song in one take and mixed in the backing vocals later. That’s the magic of recording – and I felt that energy and specialness coming through the recording.
The sweetness in the guitar, like a marigold in the sun, and the overall crisp sound of Markwardt’s voice makes “Rear View Mirror” a tune worth revisiting time and again. If you’re a fan of ‘pure country’ and even southern rockers like The Allman Brothers Band, then you will want to add Steve Markwardt’s “Rear View Mirror” to your musical library. I walked away with a sense of Markwardt’s artistry being more about tipping his hat to the country greats, but give listeners a strong storyline to follow, and a piece of his own soul. You can hear that all in his song. It’s song’s like this that make 2021 start out on a very high note for indie music.