William Steffey of Chicago is trying to reach a wider audience on his own terms, as an independent artist. Nothing new there.
But he’s distinguished by the album with which he’s trying to do it. “Roadstar” (Aquariphone) is a rare, truly surprising listen because it blends genres with relative ease. It sounds more Autobahn than back roads. Electronic dance music rhythms rub up against a singer-songwriter’s piano melody, and yet everything ends up making wonderful sense. He’s along the lines of Moby meets John Cale.
Admittedly Steffey sometimes gets too wordy for his own good, but he excels at tossing off juicy lines like: “She was great at sex but she never gave me subtext.” “Roadstar” isn’t a final destination, but it sounds like Steffey is driving in the right direction.