Steve Wacker - Shadows and GraceClick here to hear samples and purchase Shadows and Grace from CDBaby.com.

Bits of country and Tin Pan Alley peeked through the cracks on his first release Smoke Ring Haloes in 2004. On Shadows and Grace, Steve’s writing and singing have matured to a more refined distillation of his midwestern roots.

Musical guests include Bob Knetzger on pedal steel guitar and Dobro; Joel Tepp on slide guitar and harmonica; Nancy K Dillon and Joy Mills on background vocals; Garey Shelton on bass; and global vocalist Gina Salá.

Social commentary songs include “Ballad of Nathan Wood,” inspired by a newspaper story of a young Marine’s death in Iraq, and “Software Blues Stomp,” a hilarious crowd-pleasing statement of frustration that’s only partly tongue-in-cheek.

“Down On the Farm” is a nostalgic biography of a mid-20th century American mother, and “The Ghost of Beauty’s Perfume” and “Dreams of Generations” were singled out for recognition in the Great Lakes and Tumbleweed Music Festival songwriting contests, respectively.