It’s hard to believe that Steve Wold, better known to most as Seasick Steve, is now 72 years of age and his latest release Hubcap Music sees him putting his guitars through their paces again.
His love for making his own guitars is a trademark now, I still can’t forget the time I saw him playing that one-stringed Diddly Bo on the BBC’s ‘Later with Jools’, a great performance that was matched by his friendly charisma. His latest creation is made from two hubcaps and a garden hoe, all bolted together…a reflection on his fondness for his farm and tinkering with tractors…a love that opens this latest album with a tractor revving up before launching into some old-school raw electric blues on ‘Down on the Farm‘.
Whilst there may be an expectation for Steve to create a new sound ‘Hubcap Music’ still has those ingredients that many have come to love but it manages to sidestep the pitfalls of repetition, something he manages to carry off quite smoothly. He has a helping hand from the likes of Luther Dickenson of The Black Crowes, his old buddy John Paul Jones who plays some great mandolin as well as bass and Jack White who plays solo on ‘The Way I Do‘, that in anyone else’s hands would verge on sleazy.
Many of the themes are familiar, after leaving home at the age of 13 following ongoing abuse from his stepfather Steve’s journey towards a life of normality (if there is such a thing) was a lot longer than most. He lived as a hobo finding work where he could at carnivals, as a cowboy and migrant worker, bottom line is he geuinely knows hardship with a capital ‘H’. Finding fame re-enforced his self-belief survival tactics, something that’s easy to preach and hard to follow. These themes run throughout many of his songs such as ‘Self Sufficient Man‘ on which he reaffirms he can manage on his own and ‘Keep on Keepin’ On‘ a call to hold onto your dreams and never let go. Despite the bold conviction he’s got a wise head and knows we can’t be self-fueled as he points out on ‘Hope’…something we all need a little of in life.
Although Seasick Steve breaks no molds on this release the likes of ‘Purple Shadows‘, a melancholy country tune, and the bitter-sweet acoustic ‘Over You‘ keep the balance from tipping towards repetitive. The latter is a song about getting over an ex-wife but rather than rejoicing the end of the cold-hearted journey there is an undertone of warmness and even affection that is given away by the gentler tone of voice and bright strings of John Paul Jones on mandolin.
Despite the addition of prestigious guest artists Steve isn’t trying to re-invent or ground-break…this is just him kicking back and having some genuine fun. Approach the album like this and you’ll love it…it is what it is.
Wouldn’t be a Seasick Steve album without some new ‘Later with Jools’ footage…