Eight years after his debut album "Cheap" recorded when he was about 65 years old, Steve has released his sixth studio album with Jack White and John Paul Jones (from Led Zeppelin) making guest appearances.
"Hubcap Music", so named because he plays a guitar made from a garden hoe and two hubcaps, is Steve's familiar mix of blues styles. There is the traditional twelve bar blues ("Self Sufficient Man"), rap inspired talking blues ("(Keep Keepin' On") and modern electric blues with Stones style riffs (Freedom Road"). The problem is that they sound like you've heard them a thousand times or more. Impeccably performed but they bring nothing fresh to the harvest.
But the sweet mandolin of the folk blues break up song "Over You" and the blissful country blues of "Purple Shadows" with Elizabeth Cook and pedal steel bring a different substance to the album: melodic, lyrical and heartfelt. But best of all perhaps is the striking Muscle Shoals sound of "Coast Is Clear" with horns, John Paul Jones on Hammond Organ and some inspired falsetto from Steve. Magnificent!
Steve is no stranger to country blues and for me he is at his best when he sounds a little less like a manic Tom Waits, redneck boogie and punk funk and a little more like Jim Byrnes, plaintive and reflective.