Seasick Steve’s fourth album Man From Another Time confirms its title by using analogue recording equipment from days long gone. The result is a set of stripped down raw gems from the guy whose hobo life riding the rails is now the stuff of legend.
His first album, I Started Out With Nothing And I’ve Still Got Most Of It, catapulted this unassuming guy straight into the very world he rode the rails to escape from. Seasick Steve, never one to take himself too seriously, became a sensation, albeit a highly unlikely one, as it shifted a quarter of a million.
Supplying the very definition of lo-fi Steve draws on his wealth of real life experiences to continued good effect on this his latest offering. “Wenatchee” sees him back in the days of being an apple picker, “slept in a barn on a pile of hay, be pickin’ apples all day.” It’s a theme continued through the dirty blues of “Happy (To Have A Job)” played out on his famed homemade guitar.
“My Home (Blues Eyes)” has him yearning for life at home with his wife. No doubt this is something that is increasingly difficult since suddenly finding himself in the spotlight at the age of sixty something.
Man From Another Time opens with his ode to the master “Diddley Bo” during which he tells us how to make your own one string guitar. “With one string you can’t go wrong, so go ahead and make yourself a song.” It’s a genuine shout by a man who refuses to be changed by his new found recognition, a fact confirmed by the title track itself.
“I don’t know why you wanna listen what I got to say at all” he growls shrugging off his rise to recognition. It’s a good question but the answer may be right here in our downloadable, instant, throwaway society which leaves some of us needing to hear a guy who at least still sounds and looks like the real, genuine deal. If you think it through you could actually set a thesis on that line. Now wouldn't that amuse him?
“Big Green And Yeller” has him in reflective mood with dreams of buying a tractor to “drive down the highway blockin’ the traffic.” “The Banjo Song” takes him back out on the dusty trail, with voice to match, amid a stripped down gritty gem. “That’s All” has him penned behind bars longing for his freedom saying “I wanna fly like a bird over these walls.”
“Just Because I Can (CSX)” has him riding the rails again painting a picture of a self made freedom that the majority of us can only imagine. The answer of course is in its title. The standout slide of “Never Go West” tells the story of how he got to be behind bars, whilst a deeply reflective “Dark” tells you more about the guy than most of the reams of stuff that has been written about him of late.
He wraps it up with “Seasick Boogie” a self proclaimed “three string trance boogie.” Before hitting the play button again let the album run for a not so hidden extra. Gone are the guest appearances by the likes of Nick Cave and KT Tunstall which leaves just Steve, plus a few well chosen muso’s, and his string challenged guitar.
The album is all the better for showing a determination to do it in his own time honored way, rather than satisfy any polished desires of the industry. Man From Another Time he may be but he still enjoys a place right here and now.
Please also check out BC's own Glen Boyd's excellent review of the album and catch up on Seasick Steve’s impressive list of up-and-coming gigs including the Glastonbury Festival, London’s Royal Festival Hall, and at the Postbahnhof in Berlin by dropping in on his official website.