In the world of NZ musical styles, alt country/folk is a popular one, and features some well-known and revered musicians. Steve Abel is one such artist and his third full-length release ‘Luck/Hope’ is an album of intensity and beauty. The performances are stellar, restrained and impassioned at once, teasing out the feeling that rests just beneath the veneer of the songs. Abel’s guest musicians are also a roster of who’s who in the local music industry; Buzz Moller, Gareth Thomas, Geoff Maddock and Jolie Holland all add their expertise – among others. The slow and deliberate songs are based around the guitar and Abel’s careworn voice that carries emotion and weight of the world, especially Dance, with its beautiful, almost ghostly melody, building harmonies, and sparse, twinkly piano accompaniment from Thomas. The album was recorded over six years in NZ and in New York, and the city that never sleeps plays a large part, not only as a recording location but also in Sidewalk Doves, a Ryan Adams-esque paean to the city. ‘Luck/Hope’ adds to Abel’s reputation as a gifted songwriter with an authentic voice. This record is quietly graceful, a thoughtful collection of songs that linger long after the music has finished playing.