Steven Troch - “Leftovers” 

Steven Troch

“Leftovers”
(Available only on Bandcamp) 

Review by John Taylor 

You know how it is when you’re eating leftovers. You mix things up. 

That to-go box of moo goo gai pan from Sunday night? It’s still good – and come to think of it, it’d go great with a cheese dog and a few of those baby carrots tonight. And why not finish up those refried beans while we’re at it? Maybe crumble up some corn chips to add some texture. 

You know how it is when you’re eating leftovers. You mix things up. 

All of a sudden, you’re an eclectic chef, combining flavors that might never have occurred to you if you were starting from scratch. 

That’s kind of how Belgian harp master Steven Troch’s “Leftovers” works, too. 

Released Sept. 12, this 13-track digital compilation of previously unreleased songs from 2017 through 2020 is a fridge full of sounds that go places you might not expect to see a harmonica. But they’re way tastier than cheese dogs and Chinese food. Troch is wide open to old and new influences, and he seems right at home in a surprising range of genres. 

Starting with “Just a Thursday,” he takes a fresh cut at a familiar blues theme: 

“Just a Thursday in a dimly lit café 

The bartender looks like long hours and low pay …” 

“Summershoes” walks a street we know, too: 

“Follow me, baby, while the band’s at the bar, 

I got something to show you in the back of my car …” 

But wait: Don’t forget harps can rock – especially with Steven Van Der Nat’s guitar work on “Your Sister.” They also work if you’re in the mood for a little bite of Charles Mingus’ “Jelly Roll.” 

Not far enough off the beaten path for you? Troch rides Out West with the trail-weary “Almost the Real McCoy” and “Del Rio,” a cowboy-tinged ballad about a stranger who casts his eyes on a girl “as wild as a hurricane.” 

And he’s not afraid to pull some old-school blues off the back shelf, either, laying down a convincing version of the Big Bill Broonzy classic, “All By Myself.” 

Then, the ultimate trip: In “My Own Universe,” Troch takes off for outer space, propelling his harp to unexpected reaches of the unknown – and shadowy, out-of-this-world sounds that he somehow conquers. 

Bird Stevens, who did most of the mixing on this album at Tub Thumper Recordsbaked in lots of surprises. While Troch and a long list of international musicians make satisfying blues riffs seem as easy as a back-porch jam session with friends, their fearless explorations make “Leftovers” a fun find – and a true keeper. 

 

Yeah, sometimes a platter full of leftovers really hits the spot. Pass the soy sauce – and the mustard — willya? 

 

Total Time: 48:03 

Just a Thursday / I Just Can’t Read Yo’ Mind / Jelly Roll / Summershoes / The Fly / Parnell Street / All By Myself /  Almost the Real McCoy / Your Sister / So Long Ago / Del Rio / Bad Taste (Bad Up Version) My Own Universe