Release Date: May 30, 2011
Record label: PIAS
This American-born singer-guitarist was a working bluesman in the late Sixties. With better luck, he might have been a revival star like John Hammond or Taj Mahal. Instead, Seasick Steve (real name Steven Wold) has won recent acclaim in the U.K. without easing up on his Delta-purist vigor. His ….
It’s easy to be sucked into the Seasick Steve legend (his real name is Steve Wold). Raised in California, he left home at 14 and began life as a street kid hobo, hopping trains, traveling, working odd jobs, drifting, playing music on street corners, doing whatever it took to survive, until somehow he ended up in Norway in his sixties where he began his late-in-life recording career as a fire-breathing rustic trance blues musician famous for his searing slide work, gruff voice, and a penchant for cigar box guitars and other odd instruments. All of which is true.
Ooh, hasn’t he got an interesting back story, that Seasick Steve? He used to be a hobo, you know? And he plays a guitar that’s only got three strings! Did you see him on Jools Holland?? It’s the same stuff that gets raked up every time Steven Wold makes a new album. And it’s fair to say, five years after he broke through with Dog House Music and that Hootenanny performance, the novelty of Seasick’s slapdash CV has pretty much worn off - it’s time for his music to justify itself. Initially, it’s hard to imagine the justification for another album of dusty blues boogieing.
He's a no-nonsense kinda guy, is Seasick Steve: plain and literal, from his nickname down. The title of his fourth album sums it up lyrically: here are yet more songs about having little and needing less, the brevity of life and the joys of marriage. But what it lacks in linguistic poetry is amply compensated for in the vibrancy of Seasick's guitar-playing.
[a]Seasick Steve[/a]’s deification with the Jools Holland set circa 2007 was helped by his heavy novelty factor: a bearded faux-bo (and, er, one-time Modest Mouse producer) of pensionable age playing bare-bones blues-rock. Four years on, his fifth album just feels stodgily generic; even with [a]Led Zep[/a]’s John Paul Jones on mandolin, this could be by any unheralded stonewash denim-wearer in any pub backroom. That said, if you find Steve’s corn-fed sentiments and visible-from-space rhyme schemes a bit naff, just listen to [b]‘Whiskey Ballad’[/b] – written by his son Paul, it’s so inane that dad’s doggerel will read like the most complex of moral philosophy by contrast.
As much as he puts himself down, his work speaks confidently for itself. Chris Lo 2011 If you had to write a list of phrases describing Seasick Steve (real name Steve Wold), "self-deprecating" would probably rank pretty high on the list. It's just one of the unusual characteristics attributed to the silver-bearded American bluesman that has had the UK slowly falling in love with him over the five years since his breakout record Dog House Blues of 2006.