Seasick Steve- I started out with nothing and I’ve still got most of it left

Recently a reviewer in NME gave Seasick Steve’s new album two stars out of ten, why such a low score? Well the reviewer claimed that because Steve is no longer a homeless blues hobo but a Norfolk cottage dweller he isn’t entitled to write these songs anymore. This as well as being lazy journalism offended me slightly and should offend any songwriter working today because he is basically saying we cant write about our experiences, just because I am in a healthy relationship I cant write about heartbreak anymore, is that it? If everyone just wrote about the now the boring musical climate would consist of loads of bands that sounded like Belle & Sebastian meets the Kaiser Chiefs (feel free to shudder here) I think you’ll agree no one wants that. So to ‘I started out with nothing..’ the third album from Steve and the first produced properly and since his Jools Holland appearances that started his meteoric rise to fame. Opening with the title track we are in familiar territory except for his voice, what’s happened to the wizened old growl, he sounds like a man half his age, he can actually sing and has dare I say a beautiful voice. You may, like me find this the most startling revelation here but also like me, I hope, you will warm to it. So from the fast blues stomp to the ballad ‘Walkin’ Man’ a song that contains not only the line ‘my name is Steve and I’m a walkin’ man’ but with maybe a nod to his now more settled lifestyle ‘my name is Steve and I’m your staying man’. From songs with little intros giving the listener an insight into what’s behind the stories or explain a slang term he may use in the lyrics to the albums central piece which needs no introduction (but gets one anyway) ‘Thunderbird’ is Steve’s homage to drinking whether to forget, enjoy or just stay warm its builds and builds into a cascade of belting drums and feedback slide without losing any of its charm. ‘Fly by night’ again changes pace but really only serves to make way for ‘Just like a king’ the brilliant collaboration with Nick Cave and Grinderman, the two distinctive but eerily similar voices playing off each other over layers of Grinderman swirl. Also making an appearance on two tracks is KT Tunstall although the better of the two only comes on the special edition (which I advise you to get as it has a much better track list, even three extra songs on disc 1) and is an amazing cover of ‘The Letter’ in which they both breath new life into the classic tune. Elsewhere in the special you get a bonus disc of songs and spoken word, Steve coming across like Hunter S. Thopmson best gonzo rambles. Polished but retaining what first drew us to this beardy old blues bod ‘I started out..’ will not only please older fans but may even see Steve in the hit parade, for someone who used to jump trains and still plays a three string guitar he has come along way and as the title suggests he has no idea how long it will last but he will enjoy it while it does. Add six stars to the NME review and you are closer to what this album and this man deserves. For once you can believe the hype because its right.

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