“I’ve spent most of my life trying to escape the sound of the electric guitar,” says Steve Marion. That’s a rather surprising confession considering that, under the name Delicate Steve, Marion has spent the better part of the last decade establishing himself as one of the most wildly innovative and widely revered players in the game. He’s recorded with Paul Simon, been sampled by Kanye West, toured in the Black Keys, and released four critically acclaimed albums of genre-bending instrumental music. He’s your favorite musician’s favorite musician, a virtuoso songwriter, producer, and performer who occupies a lane entirely his own in the modern indie landscape, but he’s never liked the sound of the electric guitar? “I’ve tried everything under the sun to get away from it,” he explains. “Until now.”
Born and raised in New Jersey, Marion first came to widespread attention with the release of Wondervisions, his 2011 debut under the Delicate Steve moniker. The New York Times raved that the album “slyly eludes generalizations,” while NPR hailed it as “the year’s most epic sun-bleached back porch jam session,” and Mojo proclaimed that “whether this is post rock, space rock or ad hoc it’s hard to say, but who needs taxonomy when music feels this good?” Delicate Steve’s 2012 follow-up, Positive Force, was met with similar acclaim, with Pitchfork declaring that “Marion is one of those rare guitarists whose instrument sings in the place of vocals.” In the years that followed, Marion would go on to release two more highly lauded studio albums; record with the likes of Paul Simon, Amen Dunes, and Sondre Lerche; perform live with Yeasayer, Mac DeMarco, Built To Spill, Dr. Dog, and Tune-Yards among others; have his songs sampled by Kanye West not once, but twice; and join the Black Keys on the road as a touring guitarist in support of 2019’s Let’s Rock. If that all sounds like a lot for one man, that’s because it was, and by the time 2020 rolled around, Marion needed to step away from the noise.
“This music is the sound of me embracing my strengths rather than hiding from them,” says Marion. “It’s the sound of me finally letting go of whatever hang-ups I’ve had in the past and just doing what comes naturally.”
And in the end, that’s what After Hours is all about. Delicate Steve is done running from the electric guitar. He’s home.