Wicked Cool/Big Machine/UMeE Street Band guitarist “Little Steven” Van Zandt has reignited his solo career with Soulfire, his first new studio album since 1999. The 12-track collection, which Van Zandt describes as a “reintroduction of myself,” features renditions of songs Steven wrote or co-wrote for other artists over the years, plus a few new tunes and a couple of covers.

Van Zandt tells ABC Radio that the inspiration for the record was a one-off gig he played last October at London’s Bluesfest for which he formed a new version of his old group The Disciples of Soul.

“[The gig] really felt good, and it felt like an album,” Little Steven explains. “[I thought,] “I’ve never put blues on a record before or jazz or any kind of covers on a record before…and that could be the concept for this thing, just reintroducing myself to me.'”

Van Zandt says he tried to incorporate influences from many genres he embraced while developing his own musical style into Soulfire‘s songs. “You get a really good example of who I am with this thing,” he maintains.

Soulfire features renditions of four tunes Van Zandt wrote or co-wrote for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, including Southside’s signature song “I Don’t Want to Go Home” and “Love on the Wrong Side of Town,” which was co-penned by Bruce Springsteen. Among the new songs on the album is “The City Weeps Tonight,” a doo-wop tune Van Zandt began writing for his first solo album that he revisited and finally completed it for this project.

Soulfire was released on CD and digitally in May, and on vinyl in June 30. Little Steven currently is touring Europe with his new Disciples of Soul, and he’s planning to announce a full U.S. tour soon.

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