Another great recording from Seasick Steve, one of the true blues greats. Bursting onto the scene in 2006 with his patented brand of up-tempo blues played on a variety of homemade instruments, accompanied by spoken word stories of his life as a hobo, he has released a series of essential records.
With this album he shows that this old dog has managed to learn a few new tricks. He starts off with an uncharacteristic slow tempo moody song `Treasures'. The then kicks it up a gear and gets into full swing with the rocking `You can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks', which sets the tone for the rest of the album of scorching foottappin blues. As an added bonus, there is a 12 minute hidden track in which Steve tells more of his hoboing adventures, something that was sadly missing from his last album. He has expanded his musical palette a bit, with the aid of bassist Jon Paul Jones (yes, he of Led Zeppelin fame), who adds a rock steady rhythm and some rock credentials to the album. All in all this extension of Steve's basic sound works incredibly well, making this a classy and classic record.
The key to Steve's artistry is that, like all great blues artists, he has lived a full and eventful life, with much hardship. His writing and singing is inspired and informed by the years of hoboing around America. It adds another dimension to the recording, a touch of realism that sets it apart. It's reminiscent of the great Blues artists in 1950's Chicago, such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, many of whom had tough lives before (and after) they found fame. Indeed, there are several occasions when Steve plays guitar breaks that sound a lot like Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker.
This is music straight from the heart. No meaningless lyrics, pointless overproduction or synthesisers, it's real music played by real people with a great deal of skill and a deep love of what they're doing. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys music with feeling. Probably not of interest to fans of Cowell style plastic pop. This record really deserves to collect a lot of awards.
If you enjoy this then check out Steve's other offerings, `I started out with nothing', `Doghouse music' `Cheap' and `Man From Another Time'. I would also recommend `Electric Dirt' by Levon Helm, another record made with feeling.