Blues singer Seasick Steve first appeared on the UK music scene when he guested on Jools Holland’s 2006 Hootenanny. He made his mark.
Earlier this year, his sold out shows and main stage festival performances were swept away by COVID-19. He has, however, produced his eagerly awaited album, Love and Peace, which I dipped into today, starting with the title track:
It’s certainly topical ‘Stop the hatred; get back to love and peace…..so divided…..no middle ground’ followed by an appeal to come together,’ just a little bit’. I found myself wanting to dance through this one (I don’t dance) even when Seasick Steve does the fade out ‘nah nah…’ almost answering his own appeal to come together. I like this track. It’s gentle.
The track title I Will Do For You was tempting, given it could be taken two ways, but the question ‘Why you got your sad face on?’ introduced lyrics which are both tender and plaintive, making that commitment always to be on someone’s side. It’s a song from the heart, if a little short on lyrics.
Carni Days‘ lyrics are from the perspective of a carnival traveller ‘Turn on the cotton candy; line up the toys’ It’s nostalgic for anyone who’s been to a carnival, taking the listener on his journey (which includes skipping out of town before the police arrive). Again, there’s a gentleness in this man’s delivery which I can’t help but find appealing.
Church of Me (also a single out on 24 July) releases some pent-up emotion in garage rock crescendos which subside before building again. ‘I ain’t no believer but I surely believe; just want to go my own way, try to get free’. This from a man (or boy?) leaving his home town to strike out on his own ‘In the church of me’, then advising the listener to ‘Just be your own self, in the church of you.’ It’s an admirable appeal towards independence of thought and deed; self belief – and, I guess, the kind of freedom some of us never achieve (or perhaps never really want). Just slightly longer than Love and Peace, this is the longest track of the album.
Having selected the first, title track, I ended with the last, Mercy. In the first few bars, the instrumental is reminiscent of Church of Me, but Seasick Steve shakes that off with ‘Ain’t enough I think about you all day long – now I got you in my brain in this song’. The guy is smitten: ‘When I draw my last breath, who’d you think I see?’
This album is something to think to, and it soothes, even when the lyrics express some anguish.
Love and Peace is released on 24 July and, if blues with a few surprises is your genre, it’s well worth your time.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what others have to say:
“… He retains the kind of mythic aura rarely seen in these days of 24-hour communication and social media …” CLASSIC ROCK
“… Steve’s sound cuts instantly through to the core of music in all its primeval glory, and it’s as stirring and raw as his early material …” GIGWISE
The four singles taken from the album [‘Church Of Me’, ‘Carni Days’, ‘Clock Is Running’ and the title track] are all available as instant downloads with pre-orders of the album from Seasick’s official store at https://seasicksteve.tmstor.es/as well as being available on all streaming platforms. The album’s various formats include a heavyweight clear vinyl packaged with a signed print of the cover.
Photographs provided by Ian Cheek Press.