Monday, April 26, 2010

Seasick Steve

Seasick Steve
Man From Another Time
buy album here

Pushing into his seventies, Steve Wold has got a few stories to tell and several notches on his belt that make for some great songs. Known to an affectionate and constantly growing following as Seasick Steve, his colorful mix of narrative country blues and Southern delta twang comes as second nature to a man who has earned his daily bread busking, working as a carnie, and living a rough life, hopping trains and seeing the world through the eyes of what many would deem a drifter. According to Steve, "Hobos are people who move around looking for work, tramps are people who move around but don't look for work, and bums are people who don't move and don't work. I've been all three." Musically, Seasick Steve makes his own instruments, ranging from one and two-stringed guitars to cigar box banjos, records his own albums and writes from those life experiences that only he could have lived, seeing more in two months than most of us will ever see in a lifetime.

His latest album, Man From Another Time features some of best material to date with equal parts blues stomp and his haunting narrative ballads that are sure to give you chills with every listen. Not quite as rowdy as Scott H. Biram, Seasick Steve is pretty much a one-man show that sounds a great deal like Waylon Jennings mixed with the likes of T-Model Ford or Cedel Davis. He takes his time with the songs and lets them open up as they will, never forcing anything and relying heavily on the groove at hand as it determines just which way each will go. What comes through is equal parts Appalachia and Delta, bound to strike a chord within those who love both country and blues music along with everything in between. Joining Steve on several songs on the album is Dan Magnusson on drums, who does an excellent job of keeping things steady and letting Seasick work his mojo magic throughout. Opening things up with "Diddley Bo", a classic feeling track with the Bo Diddley beat that most can identify in their sleep, Steve and Dan set up a strong 3/2 clave rhythm and sing of the simplicity of making your own musical instruments out of everyday items and the fun you'll have while doing this activity. "Big Green and Yellow" follows during which Steve yearns for an old Model 60 John Deer tractor. Magnusson does some of his best percussive work on this song, creating the perfect rickety, mechanic feel of an ambling tractor down a gravel or dirt road. Though his more upbeat songs are catchy as hell, I personally feel that Seasick Steve shines best on those tracks when he is by himself, many of which are heart-felt ballads that tell of his rough life before the music. On Man From Another Time, these songs include "Just Because I Can(CSX)" telling of his joy in being a hobo while traveling in boxcars throughout the South, the drifter's lament in "Dark", and the album's title track exploring just why his audiences listen to his music when they "don't got nothin' better to do." The icing on the cake for this record is an unlisted track at the album's end, a version of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" on which he duets with Amy Lavere. This cover is absolutely gorgeous and extremely appropriate coming from an individual like Seasick Steve, who has been to this point in his life countless times just like Hank Sr, giving extra meaning behind the lyrics.

A great album and great tool to discover a true American legend who is just getting started at the ripe age of 69, Man From Another Time will most assuredly be one of 2010's best records. For those who love The Reverend Scott H. Biram, The Black Diamond Heavies, and Left Lane Cruiser to those who prefer the more rough cut blues sounds of the likes of Watermelon Slim and C.W. Stoneking, Seasick Steve is sure to fit right in and find a new fan with each listen. -Andrew Bryant

No comments: