For fans of Seasick Steve, another album release by the man born Steven Gene Leach means another round of songs that take in blues, blues rock, country and Americana influences, and are delivered in the way only Seasick knows how; on his beaten and weathered old guitar that has become almost as synonymous with him as much as late blues legend BB King’s guitar – his beloved Lucille – or Eric Clapton and his black and white Fender Stratocaster.
Along with his big and bushy grey beard, Seasick Steve’s sound has become dependant and recognisable, and although he might not be breaking any new ground or reinventing the blues wheel on new album, Love & Peace there is more than enough here to suggest that Seasick Steve is still enjoying himself, and fans of his signature sound will be more that happy with the 12 songs offered on what is the veteran performer’s ninth solo album.
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Things start promisingly with the album’s title track, the song doing what it says on the tin with Steve talking initially and then singing about how there should be more love and peace in the world. Obvious maybe but true nonetheless, and with its “na na na” refrain at the end the song becomes something of an anthem and one that fans will happily join in with once Seasick Steve is allowed back on the live stage.
‘Regular Man’ continues proceedings nicely, with Steve delivering what will be another fan-pleasing anthem about how he is just a regular man, as the title says, working, walking, touring and playing his guitar, and it’s this level of non-pretentiousness that appeals to fans new and old. This subject matter is something he revisits a few times throughout the album on the likes of mid-paced head-nodder, ‘Travelling Man’, and it’s something long time fans will be more than familiar with and will welcome with open arms.
What might surprise listeners not quite as familiar with Seasick Steve’s work is the album’s third track, the introspective ballad, ‘I Will Do For You’. A nice, slow and simple blues that never goes above mid-pace thanks to great control by Steve and faithful drummer/percussionist, Dan Magnusson. ‘I Will Do For You’ is a highlight of Love & Peace and is a fine example of how good Seasick Steve is as a songwriter.
Other highlights include ‘Carni Days’, another song that harks back to Steve’s days as a casual worker, and musically brings to mind early blues players such as Robert Johnson at the start. Just a man and his guitar, with Dan Magnusson keeping a quiet, steady beat in the background. First single, ‘Church Of Me’ has Seasick Steve’s standard slow-to-mid-paced riffing along with a steady beat throughout that builds to a climax that brings to mind the Rolling Stones with some tasty harmonica thrown into the mix.
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Following that must be what is possibly the album’s best song, and if you like a boogie, a live highlight for sure. ‘Toes In The Mud’ is a funky, rocking, toe-tapping bluesy number with catchy riffs throughout that will get even the most reluctant listener moving and grinning like a loon. It’s around this point that you realise that one of the only other acts to be doing this type of catchy, stripped down blues right now is Georgian sister duo, Larkin Poe, so maybe Seasick Steve does have something special going on here. This is halfway through the album and the rest is about as good too, with ‘My Woman’ a clear ode to wife, Elizabeth: “Why eat those hamburgers out when you’ve got steak at home?”- sings Steve in a nice bit of songwriting that’s quite clever and also rather true.
As the rest of the album has those old school blues and rock influences that carry Love & Peace through to the end nicely, it’s obvious that this is another solid Seasick Steve album. With final track ‘Mercy’ winding things down to a relaxing and laid back finish, fans will definitely be happy with what they get, and Seasick Steve himself will be happy to continue being a walkin’ man in the music world, playing his band of stripped back blues whenever and wherever he can.
Love & Peace is out on CD, Vinyl, MP3 and Streaming on 24th July.