The 10th album from the country blues artist delivers the exact catchy, nostalgic, Americana you’d expect from him – it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but maybe that’s the point
Seasick Steve doesn’t break away from form in his newest offering – don’t fix it if it ain’t broke after all.
The elusive blues performer (with a wild, unconfirmed backstory of freight train hopping and dumpster diving) is well known for delivering classic Americana, and delivering it well. The mystery surrounding his character adds a bit of clichéd schtick to a well-treaded genre; Seasick Steve conjures up rustic, Americana romance with his rags-to-riches, working-as-a-waitress-in-a-cocktail bar story. You can just imagine him crooning some classic blues under a train-stop sky scattered with stars beside some rural settings.
‘Love and Peace’ is an album that knows its genre, market, and audience. Far from experimenting with new sounds or style, Seasick Steve lays out some fuzzy, classic melodies that are pleasant to the ear and satisfy the genre tick boxes. His ‘regular man’ formula and salt of the earth musings are comfortable, warm, and earthy. There’s even a track called ‘Regular Man’ on the record.
The titular tune ‘Love and Peace’ is a well meaning but relatively soft request for just that: love and peace. A simplistic take on hugely complex divisions within society; a dulled down yet welcome distraction from that complexity. Far from getting too specifically political, Seasick Steve naively and warmly asks for us to “stop the hatred now, and get back to love and peace”; delightfully ignorant, like your Grandad. It’s a warm lyrical bowl of soup. The guitar riff on this track slaps though, and is incredibly ear-wormy, catchy, and radio friendly with mass appeal. Musically, ‘Love and Peace’ is a classic rock/blues offering with brilliant slamming tinkly keys towards the latter second third of the song. Seasick Steve’s smoky vocals and grizzled tone permeate in typical style, with a sultry, nostalgic spoken intro to get us into the vibe.
‘Regular Man’ is a smoky speakeasy personified; basically, if you like Americana blues you’ll love these tracks – it’s a genre album and unapologetically so. Seasick Steve assures us he is a ‘regular man’, detailing another clichéd but great working-man story of life and tribulations. The instrumentals are classic – I’m a fan of the genre, that sultry bass, jazzy horns, and it’s a real jam going on behind the almost spoken word pieces of Mr Seasick. If you’re not a fan, it’s not going to surprise you or offer much else outside the genre spectacles it’s wearing. It’s reliable, like a solid pair of work boots, or a decent shed.
‘I Will Do For You’ is a stripped back, guitar and bass heavy blues number, a retro love song of sorts, minimal and grizzled. Some nice subtle distortion on the bass and guitar give a fuzzy wuzzy ‘I’m in a blues lounge’ ambiance, probably wearing some fabulous, ludicrous zoot suit. Or a check shirt and trucker cap. Perfection for some.
Some other stand-out tracks from the album include the ‘Church of Me’ which has a guitar and bass riff that I’m still humming. We are at Seasick Steve’s purest form in this track. The instrumentals take a backseat here to showcase that hazy, sooty, grizzled-geezer vocals that are strong yet silky. ‘Travelling Man’ has a slightly psychedelic guitar tone in places, with a strong saucy bassline, and is another typical blues ballad, detailing through ditty the travels of the man. As in hu-man.
Ending track ‘Mercy’ doesn’t deviate from the formula and is a catchy number, with all the classic ingredients of a gritty stripped bare, rock’n’blues beat in standard style about a lady called Mercy, but also mercy in the other sense – wild.
If you like the genre, there’s sick riffs, bluesy lines and bass tones so sultry you’d think they’d steeped in a bath of pure sexual magnetism prior to being recorded. If you aren’t a fan of Americana blues and rock, there is nothing new here for you to explore. It’s an album that reflects it is owner- retro, entrenched in its ways, and aaaaaaaall about the blues, baby.
Feature Image Credit: Seasick Steve YT Channel, still from music video.