Remember a while back when I reviewed a CD by Patrick and Eugene? The good folks at Musebox sent it over and I love it. Well, I have to tell you – it’s getting a little eerie how they can pinpoint my musical taste…either I’m totally transparent or Jon over there is psychic, because once again they’ve hit upon a winner.
He’s Seasick Steve, an authentic American hobo in his mid sixties who just happens to make great music…mostly by himself, and often on instruments of his own devising. Part Delta Blues, part “indie rock with a little bit of Swamp” – Steve is gritty and real.
A press release I read describes his sound perfectly:
“Existing somewhere between The Black Keys, JJ Grey, and The North Mississippi All Stars, Seasick Steve’s music is roots, innovation, and rock ‘n roll at its very best.”
His American debut CD Man From Another Time dropped TODAY.
I’ve been listening to it all week. I love it. You need it.
But, you don’t need to just take MY word for it. Take it from the British. Steve became a sensation over there after his 2006 appearance on Jools Holland’s “Annual Hootenanny” BBC TV Show, and in the years since has graced the main stages of festivals like All Points West (U.S.), UK Reading, Leeds, Glastonbury (UK), Coachella, and Fuji Rock Festival (Japan), and played to sold-out audiences at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
His CD “I Started Out With Nothing And I Still Got Most of it Left” went Platinum. He became the oldest Brit Award Nominee in history, and took home the Mojo Award for Best Breakthrough Act. All this from a guy with a three string guitar, a scruffy gray beard, a trucker hat and a knowing twinkle in his eye.
So, you may be wondering the same thing that crossed my mind when I started reading about Steve, namely…if he’s an American, what is he doing in Europe? Why did THEY “discover” him before we did? Well, it helped that he’s living in Oslo, Norway now, but I’m getting ahead of myself, as usual.
Born in Oakland, CA, Steve ran away from home at 13 and has been “on the road” ever since – back and forth across the country and a few times across the Pond. He took up the guitar in his mid teens and while he’s played music throughout his life, he hadn’t made it his career until recently.
Enter Steve’s Norwegian wife. It’s thanks to her that we’re hearing him at all – she urged him to take up playing again after he had a heart attack. Calling on his roots, his experiences, his travels and his own ingenuity, Steve started picking up tools and things around the house and finding ways to make music with them. Raw music – with growls, stomps and good old rockin’. And the rest, as they say…well, you know what they say.
On Man From Another Time – the whole CD – Steve plays every instrument but the drums himself. At his insistence this entire album was recorded in analog format, because as he says “computers and me don’t get along so good.” The result is a sort of aural clarity; the stripped down arrangements (if you can call them that) allow you to feel the rhythm in a way that you didn’t even know you’d been missing. With every wild whoop and tender exhale, Steve passes on his experiences through this raw, earthy music.
Fittingly, the lead track is “Diddley Bo” – an eponymous homage to the one stringed instrument he plays – and solos with – throughout the song, and a perfect example of how less can definitely be more:
“Wenatchee” is a rolling good time that recalls a job picking in an apple orchard, and “Never Go West” is an ode to the Spokane slammer. (Check out that video below. Yes, that’s a homemade cigar box guitar he’s rockin’.)
This music and its artist tell stories and evoke feeling that draws you in and makes you feel just uncomfortable enough to be familiar. At times I hear a little ZZ Top, other times I recognize some Robert Johnson…it’s all Seasick Steve.
My personal fave track, “Happy (to Have a Job)” is as much a fitting commentary today as it could have been during the Depression. Yep – Steve’s lyrics are timeless because they speak to the human condition…assuming that condition drives a John Deere tractor, as he did in “Big Green and Yeller”.
Authentic? You damn skippy.
Jon @musebox (hint: follow them on Twitter) has generously offered up FOUR times the Steve – two copies of Man From Another Time on CD and two copies of it on Vinyl. (I KNOW, right?? Vinyl!)
Here’s what you do:
- Just comment here and tell me what you thought. Easy peasy. One entry.
- If you want you could tweet about Steve’s CD and this post. Y’know, maybe something like this: Seasick Steve: Man From Another Time. Review and giveaway of some rockin’ Delta Blues @MusicSavvyMom http://ow.ly/1tnI3 (Then come back and give me the link to your Tweet.) Bam – that makes two entries.
- Wanna get really crazy? Post this as your Facebook Status: – Check out Seasick Steve: Man From Another Time. Review and giveaway of some rockin’ Delta Blues @MusicSavvyMom http://ow.ly/1tnI3 – And of course, come back and give me that link, too. Booyah! That’s three!
Then, since you will have already bought your copy of Man From Another Time, if you win you can give the extra to one of your buddies and get massive props for having such awesome taste in music. Win/Win!