Relax'N Review: Chicken Soup for the Gamer's Soul
Let me share a personal philosophy before beginning this review—great music should transport you to another time and another place. In the case of Relax’N, I went on a journey with Steven Morris, and while it was a relatively short one, it’s a journey that I think everyone should take.
Relax’N has a humble prologue with an ambling acoustic guitar that evokes a pastoral landscape in the track “Love Theme”. New instruments gradually join the mix, before leading into “Village” from SimCity. The pastoral landscape gives way to a sleepy town, nestled between mountains and at the foot of a lake. The town begins to wake as “Richard’s Villa” plays, with villagers joining in a joyful chorus. “Piranha Plant’s Lullaby” takes us on a candlelit stroll through the once-bustling streets before being awoken for the final track, “K. K. Cruisin,” a funky track that’s perfect for a town celebration. The celebration finally ends as the last few notes ring out.
If you’re familiar with Steven Morris, then you’re aware that he is an expert multi-instrumentalist. I can’t begin to imagine how much care went into ensuring that each instrument had a clear voice, but suffice it to say that I’m constantly discovering new sounds upon each listen (now on my 5th listen). His arrangements are heartfelt, detailed, and uplifting. The mixing and mastering are top-notch, but I don’t want to dwell on the technical aspects of the album too much.
Steven’s confidence with all of his instruments is astounding, but especially with the guitar. Steven has created several original tracks in the past few months, and most of these tracks feature acoustic guitar, so it’s no surprise to me that his playing is better than ever. In addition, his skill as a songwriter has improved, making every track unique and memorable.
Relax’N succeeds on many levels, and is the culmination of Steven’s career up to this point. The easiest way to describe this album is Chicken Soup for the Gamer’s Soul: it’s warm, comforting, and delicious without being needlessly complex.