By Deaglan Howlett | Posted Sunday, December 10, 2017
These Nights is the latest effort from New Jersey’s Steve Burks. The EP, which was released October 6th, is his first since 2015’s Where I Belong. Since his last release, Burks has clearly been polishing his songwriting and has really found his sound on this release. The record itself also sounds polished, having recorded the EP at North End Recording in Passaic, NJ. In addition to a change in studio, Burks found a group of producers that really knew what he was going for with Sammy Kay, Brian Rothenbeck and Ed Elduka.
Burks’ influences truly shine through on this release, without drowning out his original sound. On this EP I heard a lot of Bob Dylan, Lucero, Gaslight Anthem and some late Replacements/solo Paul Westerberg. This record gives the listener a look in at Burks’ record collection, and he manages to utilize these influences to give a familiar sound to his fans and a platform to perform his songs of loss. This EP is emotionally heavy and the listener can tell Burks put all he had into these five songs.
My first listen, I immediately noticed the change in production. These Nights is professional-sounding as all hell. I also noticed a change in songwriting. 2015’s Where I Belong is a truly determined and hopeful EP. Burks himself sums up that release, stating:
“This record was written entirely in hotel rooms, backseats of cars, airport bars, and every truck stop the Garden State Parkway and Turnpike has to offer. I've always called New Jersey home, but a day doesn't go by where I don't think about grabbing my guitar, filling up the tank, putting Bob Dylan on the stereo and just leaving; driving until the lines on the road are as permanent a fixture as the tattooed lines on my skin. Having no desire to stop until I've found myself, found a place I can call home, whether it be California, Tennessee, New Orleans, Texas. Thinking about the past with each state line I cross; the good times, the bad, the broken hearts, the tears, the last calls, my family, my friends; and how I traded it all for the open road and the stars above. Praying these 4 wheels, and heavy heart lead me to the dream continuously playing in my mind of finding Where I Belong.”
When I asked Burks if he had any words about These Nights, he was less willing to explain, and the music truly does do all of the talking. He told me “...this album is extremely personal to me, like songs that have been brewing for like 13 years but could never actually put the thoughts into words. In a weird way, this album was some sort of strange closure for me.”
The songs tell the listener directly what Burks has been feeling. This release is beautifully personal, and I am sure it took a lot out of him to write these songs and share them. The hardest part of the creative process is sharing, yet Burks seems to have done that with ease.