By Seasick Steve
Let's face it, you'd have to be some black hearted, Scrooge-like fellow to dislike Seasick Steve. The old bluesman is going against the grain in just about every way possible. He looks as though he hasn't bathed in a week, his voice is often indistinguishable, and his guitars don't always sound tuned. But, when someone is making music as passionate and real as he is, you just have to listen.
'I Started Out With Nothin...' is Seasick Steve's third album, but the first with a major record label: Warner Brothers. The question is, will his gritty sound still emanate despite the big bucks now behind him? The answer, quite simply, is yes. Although it all starts off badly.
The title song for the album is a far cry from his simple blues roots, and immediately makes you wonder if Seasick has become another label pawn. The supporting vocals and basic riff might appeal to the masses, but are exactly the opposite of what Seasick Steve is all about. It's not that he shouldn't be encouraged to experiment, and push the boundaries of the genre, but this over polished, hollow effort lacks the soul that Seasick Steve fans have become accustomed to.
Fortunately, the album changes its tune and reverts back to exactly what Seasick Steve is all about. 'St. Louis Slim' features an inspired drum rhythm, and traditional light rock blues that you could listen to all day. It not only ticks all the boxes, but adds a few you didn't know existed.
One of the best songs on the album is 'Fly By Night.' The track is laden with pure soul, close your eyes and you can imagine Seasick Steve sitting in his porch, on his rocking chair at 3am, pouring his heart out to the passing world, and the bugs that fly around his head.
On the subject of bugs, we especially liked 'Chiggers.' In this amusing blues tribute to the little midges that bite his ankles, he explains how they make a motel on his legs, and how to kill them. Lyrically, it's bizarre, but the melody is pure blues, and the angry strumming towards the end is wonderful.
Overall, this album is a grand listen. The old man of blues' third album doesn't mutate into a commercial creature despite the big label backing, and while it may not be quite as traditional as his previous two albums, this album will please new and old fans alike.