Steve Louw new album ‘Headlight Dreams’ out today & featuring Joe Bonamassa | Music Exchange

In less than 3 weeks since the single release with Joe Bonamassa entitled “Wind in your Hair” Spotify figures reveal over 68 000 listeners and over 98 000 streams of the song “Wind in your Hair “ – a remarkable feat!

Steve Louw shines on Headlight Dreams

Cape Town, 7 May 2021 – It’s hard to believe the last new music we heard from Steve Louw arrived seven long years ago. With the wait now finally over, fans right around the world are already embracing the pop/rock icon’s return with arms wide open.

The past year has been a rich and hugely rewarding one for Steve. Not only did Steve record his brand-new album, Headlight Dreams, in Nashville, along with his long-time friend and producer extraordinaire, Kevin Shirley (John Hiatt, Joe Satriani, Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes), but Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and genius guitarist, Joe Bonamassa also pitched up and added his magic to the record. To boot, SONY ATV, upon hearing the finished album, offered Steve his first international solo artist record deal.

The album now out and with two singles already on high rotation, “Crazy River” and “Wind in your Hair”, the latter is the one that’s quite literally blowing up all around the world. In its first week of release in the US, the track landed at the highly coveted Number Two position on the Billboard ACC Folk Chart, ahead of the likes of the equally commendable Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi.

Along with its spellbinding video, “Wind in your Hair is the track that sports Joe Bonamassa guitar fills and outstanding middle-eight. What makes this song all the more special for its maker is the fact that Kevin sent it to a friend to master, thereby adding the final piece of magic to this blinding brilliant musical statement.

Wind In Your Hair


Steve’s wedding anniversary was coming up two days after the album wrapped and, unbeknownst to Steve at the time, Kevin had sent the track to mastering legend, Bob Ludwig and within a day he’d mastered it and sent it on to Steve on the day as a gift to celebrate his nuptials. “When I got it, I played it on my little Bose speaker out into New York. It was one of the greatest moments ever!” Steve recalls. To top it off, Bob sent an email with the final mastered track saying, “What a wonderful song, what a wonderful vocal performance, I loved working on this”. “I practically did a giddy summersault,” he recalls.

As to the creation of the track, Steve points to how, lyrically, he sings of love changing and building between two people as life throws up detours and bridges. “It’s a love story exploring how two people, who love each other but have different needs and desires, travel through their life and love. The chorus kicks back to the joy of love, while the verses take you on a journey of rough and smooth roads and winding passes, ending at the place they set out for.”

With ten tracks captured in an arresting three-day recording sprint, producer Kevin Shirley channelled each one of Headlight Dreams’ songs through a vintage Neve console inside of a converted church. “From the first moment I loved the acoustics of the studio and the vibe created by the wonderful Nashville musicians with their great feel and playing, drawing you into a world shimmering in the half-light, just out of reach…,” Steve shares.

With the promise of future live shows in support of the album’s release, fans can look forward to sharing what is the greatest ride of Steve Louw’s life. A consummate storyteller, a supremely gifted guitarist and a genuinely wonderful human being, Steve’s Headlight Dreams is a beautiful statement, endorsed and applauded by everyone it touches.

Headlight Dreams is out now via BFD/The Orchard.

Website: SteveLouw.com

Headlight Dreams by Steve Louw | Press Release

Headlight Dreams is the first international solo release by South African singer-songwriter Steve Louw. Helmed by internationally renowned producer Kevin Shirley (John Hiatt, Joe Bonamassa, The Black Crowes) and recorded in Nashville, Tennessee with top local musicians, the album sees Steve exploring new ground as a songwriter as he addresses issues close to his heart.

Steve’s recording career began in 1984 when he and his band at the time, All Night Radio, recorded their first album, The Heart’s the Best Part. His connection with Kevin – who’s also originally from Cape Town, South Africa – goes back to 1986 when he produced All Night Radio’s second album, The Killing Floor. He also produced Waiting for the Dawn (1990), the debut album by Steve’s next band, Big Sky. The title track – about Steve’s hopes for a new country emerging from the nightmare of apartheid – was a major hit and is considered an all-time SA rock classic.

As Big Sky, Steve released four more successful albums. Horizon (1995), recorded by legendary US producer Shelley Yakus (U2, Tom Petty), won the 1996 FNB Music Award for Best SA Rock Act. Going Down with Mr Green (1997), Beyond the Blue (2002) and Trancas Canyon (2008) followed, as well as a compilation album, Best of the Decade (1999). The latter three albums were also produced by Kevin.

Several tracks off these albums have become perennial SA radio favourites, including One Cut with a Knife, Kathleen, Mr Green, Slow Dancing, Diamonds and Dirt and Strange Room.

Since 1990, Steve and Big Sky have performed to sell-out crowds all over South Africa. A DVD of a concert filmed at Cape Town’s Little Theatre in 2009 captures the band, made up of top SA musicians, bringing Steve’s songs to life in front of an ecstatic audience.

In 1998, Steve and Big Sky opened for Rodriquez on his first SA tour, with the band also backing the US singer-songwriter who, unbeknownst to him, had a massive following in SA and was making a musical comeback after 25 years in the wilderness. The story behind this historic tour is told in the Oscar-winning 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man.

Steve also co-wrote the song Amandla with Brian May (Queen) and Dave Stewart (The Eurythmics) which was performed by Beyoncé, Bono and Anastacia at the 46664 concert held in Cape Town in 2003, organised by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to raise awareness of the spread of HIV/Aids in South Africa and hosted by the icon himself.

Headlight Dreams sees Steve return to the studio after a 12-year break with a new set of songs and fresh musical inspiration. Says Steve, “I’d taken a 8 000-km motorcycle journey around Southern Africa and a lot of that space and time seeped into these songs. After weeks of riding I started to see things in slow motion and hyperspeed at once and I became mesmerised by the landscape.

“I built the songs around my voice and the acoustic guitar so that the listener would be drawn into a journey through broken open landscapes, seeing images in the peripheral half-light while mesmerised by beams of light . . . time passing, slowing, stopping, speeding, with shadows playing  just outside of the picture frame.

“Headlight Dreams takes you through a desperate, dessicated landscape populated with outlaws, gamblers, starving horses and broken lovers . . . the music sounds as if it was made in a distant, more simple time, and moves and breathes as the musicians weave their parts into the singer’s landscape.

“The album was recorded in three days on a 1970s Neve console and other vintage analog gear in an old church building that had been converted into a studio, and with Kevin’s great production and mix it sounds like it. From the first moment I loved the acoustics of the studio and the vibe created by the wonderful Nashville musicians with their great feel and playing, drawing you into a world shimmering in the half-light, just out of reach . . .”

Steve talks about how the lyrics and music came together.

Crazy River

I took a long canoe trip down the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon and out again. It was a very spacy spiritual place and it felt like I was on a journey to the middle of the earth . . . I wrote this after the trip.

On one level the song is about the river trip and the journey deep inside the raw power and beating heart of nature, but it also reflects on time, our time on Earth, how we experience it, and how the bonds of deep personal relationships with our fellow travellers nurture our souls.

I played the acoustic guitar using a few African-style riffs and the band picked up on that feel. Guitarist Rob McNelley contributed beautiful slide guitar.

Wind in Your Hair

The song deals with how love changes and builds between two people as life throws up detours and bridges. It’s a love story exploring how two people who love each other but have different needs and desires travel through their life and love. The chorus always kicks back to the joy of love, but the verses take you through a journey of rough and smooth roads and winding passes – and ends at the place they set out for.

I love the way the acoustic guitar opens the song and then the band kicks in with a great tom fill. US guitar legend Joe Bonamassa was in the studio and played a killer solo as he heard the track for the first time.

Don’t Wait

The chorus says it all:

“Don’t leave it too late (don’t wait)
‘Til you’re standing in front of hell’s gates (don’t wait)
With a pocket full of loose change (don’t wait)
Feeling lost and strange”

Time is moving and so are you – but it’s never too late to get to where you want to go . . .

The song’s about someone on a strange road trip out on roads far from the mainstream, though glimpses of towns keep showing themselves. Reflecting on what he’s been and wished he hadn’t seen, he heads into town . . . and leaves again, back on track. It’s about how we hold our destiny in our own hands, how it’s never too late to be your dream, and how if you don’t stop, you keep moving forward.

Train Don’t Run

My grandfather was a railroadman and in the 1930s my father rode trains looking for work. To me, trains symbolise our attempts to bend nature to our will – and we’re seeing that trying to do that will never work. Silence will always return to the plains, the wind will blow, tracks will crumble and the earth will breathe again. This song has the wide open plains in it; dry cracked earth and a broken land.

The song builds from a driving acoustic guitar and hypnotic bassline to a haunting guitar solo by Rob. The production brings out the relentlessness of the song and of what we inflict on our planet.

Seven Roses

This song came out pretty much fully-formed the first time I played it on guitar and has a great chorus. I wrote it from the perspective of realising too late that love can’t be taken for granted – it’s strange that sometimes you can see that clearly only once it’s too late for it to be of any use. Love is fragile and often we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone:

“I had it all, I had nothing left to do
I let it fall right through my fingers”

Too drunk to leave the bar, he tries to figure out his road ahead . . .

The band kicks the door down in the intro and then the song is built around the vocal and acoustic guitar in the verses.

Get out of my Heart

I like the opening line: “I’d rather walk than drive another mile with you.” Two people who can’t figure out if they love or hate each other, or both . . . It’s different to all the other songs but the in-your-face vocal, acoustic guitar riff and weird time signature sucks you into their personal mayhem.

I only had the “get out of my heart” line when I started writing this song, singing along to power chords and a Bo Diddley-type beat, and later wrote the verses. I thought of the song as a rocker and a cry in the dark. We played it that way live and it went down well but I felt the song was too linear for the lyric and I put it aside.

About a week before going into the studio I tried playing and singing the chorus in a different time signature and suddenly the song took on the mood of the lyric, which is pretty dark – and the story  came into stark relief.

Once we got the time signature nailed down in the studio I found I could sing the lyrics with the space it needed. I love the sound of the vocal.

The Lost and Found

I’ve always been intrigued by lost-and-found counters and the crazy stuff that gets handed in. Many years ago I took a two-month trip around America on the Greyhound bus. For $99 you could travel as much you liked for three months – transport and accomodation in one package! The bus stations were always in the seedy parts of town and some had lost-and-found counters with weird stuff that had been left on a bus. Who loses a stuffed crocodile on a bus?

I liked the image of someone going to a lost-and-found counter to see if a broken heart found lying around town had been turned in. Seeing  a broken heart on the shelf is a hilarious image, and I liked the idea  of someone just discarding a heart when they were done with it.

The musicians just tear it up on this tune and don’t let up until the last bar. It feels like a great band playing a Saturday-night gig in a small town in a distant time. I love the way the acoustic guitar drives the stinging electric guitar riffs laid down by Rob on a vintage Fender Jazzmaster.

Headlight Dreams

About a renegade couple running headlong into their future, whatever that may hold – tripping down their road, criss-crossing the lines of the law as they drive into their dream . . . You know it’s not going to end well.

I was looking back and thinking about all of the crazy stuff I’d done when I was younger. I loved the feeling of “full speed ahead, captain!” as you reach out for your dream. I lot of that happened in badly driven cars in altered states of consciousness and had a dreamlike quality . . .

I’d read that children’s minds react similarly to those of adults on acid. I was enthralled to see the world through my own children’s eyes as I could see how they saw the world in a wonderous way. They’re grown now and in this song I’m reaching back.

Heavy Weather

I wrote this a few years ago at a time when major cities were running out of water due to climate change. The character is walking through dust and gloom on dried-out plains, seeing the landscape change before his eyes. He feels his fear . . .

I was thinking of the beauty of Robert Johnson’s songs and how, in their simplicity and the power of his playing and singing, they captured the time and landscape. Weather is always on our minds. It’s out of our control and can be both beautiful and scary.

We live in a time when natural systems that have taken thousands of years to evolve are being destroyed, and I wanted to write about that. I love the  sound of a nightjar calling in the night – it’s comforting in an otherwise scary, dark night and holds hope and promise.

The syncopated acoustic guitar riff and Rob’s killer solo (played on a beautiful Gibson 335 guitar) takes you into that realm.

Queen Bee Maybe

I was working on this song and had two verses but no chorus when a swarm of bees arrived to move into the roof of my house. I called the beekeeper and he came at sunset. He took the queen bee out of the swarm, put her in his wooden box and the swarm followed her in. I had my chorus! It fitted the song perfectly. A great Hammond organ solo by Kev McHendry and swampy guitars create a great stew.

This is the first song we cut in Nashville and it captured the mood of the album, centered around my voice and acoustic guitar. The band settled into the groove quickly and within an hour we had it down. We ended up using the working mix we used while tracking and you can hear the song breathe as Kevin adjusts the faders during the take.

Wind In Your Hair” b/w “Crazy River” makes NACC Top Folk Adds! Great news from North American College and Community radio!

We wanted to share the great news that Steve Louw’s single grabbed a coveted spot on the NACC Top 5 Folk Adds Chart this week, tying for #2!

This is a great accomplishment, because there are dozens upon dozens of releases going for adds every week (and only 5 spots!). This is also great, because making the charts is harder for singles, as many stations prefer to save those spots for full albums/eps, so even singles by established artists or on big labels are fighting for a spot.

 www.twinvision.net

Top 5 Folk Adds
WEEK ENDING APRIL 20

RankTAArtistRecordingLabel
15MELISSA LINGOFeeding Birds In WinterElectrofone
2*4456, THESimple SongsSelf-Released
2*4BRITTON PATRICK MORGAN“Bad Tom Smith” [Single]Hill Country Artists
2*4RHIANNON GIDDENS AND FRANCESCO TURRISIThey’re Calling Me HomeNonesuch
2*4STEVE LOUW“Wind In Your Hair” b/w “Crazy River” [Single]Self-Released

* denotes tie

Headlight Dreams – Steve Louw | Rough Trade

Headlight Dreams is the first international solo release by South African singer-songwriter Steve Louw. Helmed by internationally renowned producer Kevin Shirley (John Hiatt, Joe Bonamassa, The Black Crowes) and recorded in Nashville, Tennessee with top local musicians, the album sees Steve exploring new ground as a songwriter as he addresses issues near to his heart. Headlight Dreams sees Steve return to the studio after a seven-year break with a new set of songs and fresh musical inspiration.

Says Steve, “I’d taken an 8000-km motorcycle journey around Southern Africa and a lot of that space and time seeped into these songs. After weeks of riding I started to see things in slow motion and hyperspeed at once and I became mesmerised by the landscape. “I built the songs around my voice and the acoustic guitar so that the listener would be drawn into a journey through broken open landscapes, seeing images in the peripheral half- light while mesmerised by beams of light . . . time passing, slowing, stopping, speeding, with shadows playing just outside of the picture frame.”

Rough Trade

Joe Bonamassa Guitar Solo on “Wind In Your Hair”

Wind In Your Hair by Steve Louw feat Joe Bonamassa

In January last year, Joe Bonamassa, his band and I went to Abbey Road Studios in London to make an album, that was to become Royal Tea. After we finished tracking the album I went to Nashville to make a record with my long time friend from South Africa, Steve Louw. It was in the middle of this that I realized we’d forgotten to do a guitar solo on the title track of Joe’s album. So I called Joe (he was on tour, in Florida at the time and he said he could stop by the studio in Nashville on his way to Chicago. Which he did, in his big luxury tour bus. He walked into the studio carrying his fender amp and one guitar and we did the solo, that you now hear on his album. As I was in the middle of recording Steve Louw‘s album, Steve asked if Joe’d be interested in playing a solo on one of his tracks. Steve had been very accommodating and just let us use his studio time, and Joe commented “well I suppose there’s no such thing as a free lunch” He then played a blinding one-take guitar solo on this wonderful track of Steve’s called “Wind in your Hair” Enjoy it!

Steve’s new album called Headlight Dreams is out on May 7.
Go and follow him on Instagram and check out his site http://headlightdreams.com

Kevin Shirley on Facebook

SOUTH AFRICAN SINGER/SONGWRITER STEVE LOUW – NEW ALBUM “HEADLIGHT DREAMS” OUT IN MAY

ARTICLE CONTRIBUTED BY VICIOUS KID PR | PUBLISHED ON TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 2021

From Grateful Web

FULL ALBUM, HEADLIGHT DREAMS, DUE OUT IN MAY

The much-revered South African singer/songwriter/guitarist, Steve Louw releases, “Crazy River,” the first track from his forthcoming album, Headlight Dreams to be released in May via BFD/The Orchard.

The song itself is an upbeat, transcendent ode to the beauty of a river, its timelessness against the impermanent world it runs through, and the aspects of ourselves that long to be just like it. Louw, with a rich lifetime of music making under the belt, gets it and embraces the moment. The video puts him occasionally front and center, singing and playing with millennial enthusiasm, yet with the confidence that experience brings, his image juxtaposed with footage and stills of lives lived large against a backdrop of mountains, valleys and rapids. So lush is it all that one could just jump at the screen before getting a hold of themselves.

Says Louw of the song, “I once took a long canoe trip down the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon and out again. It was a very spacy spiritual place and it felt like I was on a journey to the middle of the earth. I wrote this after the trip. On one level the song is about the river trip and the journey deep inside the raw power and beating heart of nature, but it also reflects on time, our time on Earth, how we experience it, and how the bonds of deep personal relationships with our fellow travellers nurture our souls. I played the acoustic guitar using a few African-style riffs and the band picked up on that feel. Guitarist Rob McNelley contributed beautiful slide guitar”

From the moment he jumped into the South African music scene in the eighties, he was swimming with the best of em. At that time, he fronted All Night Radio, a group that would release two hit records, The Heart’s the Best Part (1984) and The Killing Floor (1986) and establish Louw as a force to be reckoned with on the SA music scene. But in 1990, Steve achieved legendary status after forming Big Sky, who won the honor of Best South African Rock Act in 1996 and were subsequently accepted into the SA Rock Hall of Fame. In 1998, they supported Rodriguez on tour and were incidentally featured in the film, Searching For Sugarman.

In 2003, Steve collaborated with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), Anastacia and Brian May (Queen) on a song called “Amandla” that was performed for the Madiba’s 46664 concert in Cape Town by Beyonce and Bono.

He also played and recorded with the aforementioned Rodriguez, Blondie Chaplin and Kevin Shirley, who produced Headlight Dreams. The new album also features a guest spot from heroic guitarist Joe Bonamassa on “Wind In Your Hair.”

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