Steve Drizos in his home studio, June 2020. Photo by Jason Quigley.

Portland musician Steve Drizos celebrates the new year by popping the cork on his first solo release, Axiom – a stalwart collection of dreamy, moving, psychedelicized rock.

Drizos, drummer for Jerry Joseph and The Jackmormons, has engineered and produced a number of albums with Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers), Jerry Joseph, Chris Funk (The Decemberists), and Scott McCaughey (R.E.M., Minus 5, The Young Fresh Fellows). This time around, it’s his turn as writer.

Singing and playing many of the instruments, he enlisted his friends and life-partner wife, Jenny Conlee-Drizos (The Decemberists)  on these sessions to accompany him. The eight-song cycle begins with the title track, leading into Juggling Fire, a tune that sets the tone for the album’s compelling message.

“The motivation to make the record came a few months after I got sober,” Drizos said. “Juggling Fire was the first song I wrote as a sober person, and it was really emotional to finish the song and feel that clarity in the creative process.” 

The vocal harmonies throughout the album are stirring and clearly mixed, the guitars are crisp and big, and Drizos’ solid drumming propels every track. The tender moments alongside the rockers are soul-searching and intimate. You Don’t See That Now is an inspiring tune with steady harmonies as counterpoint to Drizos’ storytelling. Listen to the preview single, Static, online at bit.ly/3rzlQMS.

“This is the first time I have written, produced, recorded and mixed a project myself,” he said. “Besides guest musicians helping out on the tracking process, Dave Jones helping out with vocal coaching, and Kyleen King’s string and vocal arrangements, this record differs from anything else that I’ve been involved in because it was all me, for the most part, from beginning to end.”

The album is a hopeful beginning to a sorely needed new year, with promise and transformation at its center. “I never wanted to say it’s all going to be okay, Drizos adds, “because that’s a promise nobody can make. But it can be better.”

Axiom is, as the word is defined, a statement taken as truth. This new music rings true, and makes the day better. 

Visit his new website, SteveDrizos.com and order a copy.