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Seasick Steve You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Seasick Steve has reached acclaim by apparently being himself. An oddity?, well, certainly different in appearance to most of the 'popular' singer/songwriters out there and certainly an original talent. His latest release sees him experiment away from the solo and with the aid of added musicians makes a much bigger, deeper sound. Steeped in the blues, the album soaks the listener in melancholy. Not depressing (far from it); this is modern, heavy and very, very good.

The opening track 'Treasures' comes as no surprise. The formula of what Seasick Steve has done in the past is followed to the letter here; acoustic riffs, the gruff, unmistakable voice and a fiddle thrown in for good measure. The album takes a heavier turn with the introduction of Dan Magnusson (drums and percussion) and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones (bass) on the very next track 'You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks'. Here, the sound is enormous, very reminiscent of the early blues songs by Led Zeppelin themselves. It's full on and in your face; it's fantastic. The heavier, fuller sound works so well on all levels. John Paul Jones also features on two other tracks, the heavy, bluesy 'Back In The Doghouse' and the album closer 'It's A Long Long Way'. The latter sounding more traditional in content and delivery, whilst the former is another epic sounding song.

The odd instruments and arrangements that Seasick Steve fans have come to expect appear only fleetingly. Washboard and whistling appear on 'Whisky Ballad' and Seasick Steve's banjo is very evident on 'Underneath A Blue And Cloudless Sky'.

Overall, there is lots on here that one would expect after listening to previous releases, though there are some very nice surprises. Pigeon holed, he might be, but here Seasick Steve is taking his originality to new levels and the addition of a full backing band is a masterstroke. The song subjects may be a little predictable now but the delivery is often inspired. The highlights for me are obviously the heavier tracks that stand out from the others due to the sheer emotion (and volume). The man is very likeable and so too is his music. It's no wonder he's so popular with this summer's festival promoters, his appeal is widespread and he never ceases to inspire.