The newest LP from blues icon Seasick Steve isn't legendary, but it's still a damn fine album.
Known for his understated views on life, simple image and natural talent, Seasick Steve (Steve Gene Wold) has been performing for nearly 50 years and has become a staple in the blues rock scene. Starting out as a backing musician, Wold became known as a wanderer, travelling the world playing his tunes for anyone who would care to listen, of whom was ironically a lot of people. His ninth studio album, Love & Peace, is out today and proves that Seasick Steve is still very much a blues icon.
Starting on a mini speech from Steve himself, ‘Love & Peace’ comes out the gates full pelt as the opening of the album, already blessing our ears from the get-go with some classic blues feels. Steve calls for everyone to ‘stop the hatred now, get back to Love & Peace’, arguing ‘it ain’t just some word to say’, its mantra we should actually follow. This disdain at the divides of the world travels throughout the rest of the album, producing a near political LP, but not one that is too in-your-face.
Seasick Steve very much gives off the impression that he is, like the second song title of the album states, a ‘Regular Man’; he’s simply a guy with a guitar who has some things to say, and he’s doing that through music. And god can he play that guitar. The shining star of the whole album is easily the killer guitar riffs, quick to get your head nodding in no time, especially when paired with the cracking drums and Wold’s deep accented voice. My favourite riff of the album has got to be on ‘Clock is Running’, a foot-tapping tune centring on ideas of restlessness, always yearning to keep moving and going forward, fitting in with Wold’s musician-wanderer image. ‘Mercy’ also deserves a shoutout for how great Wold’s vocals sound on it, with his crooning over a simple guitar riff perfectly fitting the songs subject matter.
Most of the album, as is usual with Seasick Steve’s other works, focuses on Wold’s own life experiences. ‘Carni Days’, for instance, follows his time as a carnival worker, one of many odd jobs he took as he travelled across the US. Wold has lived a rich, full life, chock-a-block with interesting experiences, and those tales are told through his music, painting a picture in the listener’s mind of this curious life. ‘Travelling Man’ follows a similar vein to ‘Clock Is Running’, with ideas of just wanting to move on, and keep wandering, rather than settle. This all contributes to Seasick Steve’s overwhelming image as a man on the road with a guitar, an image that’s worked for him for the last 50 years and still works for him now.
Seasick Steve may shine at his best on the stage (see literally any performance of his; he can enrapture a crowd brilliantly), but this is still a good album. It’s not lifechanging, but if you’re looking for some damn good classic blues, harkening back to 60s/70s rockers like Albert Collins, Albert King, and even a little bit of the train-chugging-esque rhythms of Johnny Cash, Love & Peace is the record for you. It’s near hypnotic with its musicality, and the perfect album to just sit back and vibe to.
Love & Peace is available to listen to now via Contagious Music. Check out ‘Church of Me’ down below.