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 Post subject: Seasick Steve - You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks
PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 6:30 am 

Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:04 pm
Posts: 64
Location: Numazu-Shi, Japan
You guys may remember when I first mentioned Seasick Steve back in September and to be honest my infatuation with this old bluesman hasn’t eased off, not even a little. I think it is the pure honesty that his music is imbued with that keeps me returning. With his fifth record in several years, 2011′s ‘You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks’ indicates Steve Wold may still have some tricks he’s yet to show.

As with with Steve’s style on the first listen you may be allowed to think that this record is same old, same old, Steve doing as Steve does. I hope, after a handful of listens you may notice that there are a few new, different nuances, different things going on that were not present on prior records. It is still Steve doing as Steve does, but with a wink.

In my mind, I feel that Old Dog is Steve’s fullest and well-rounded record to date. Previous records had this element of introducing the ensemble of sounds Steve had within him, ‘Save Me’ and ‘Diddley Bo’ featured his unique Diddley Bo instrument, ‘The Banjo Song’ to showcase his banjo technique, the melancholic ‘Dark’ and ‘Walkin’ Man’ utterances feel like love letters accompanied by sounds. And now, by the fifth record, we know the cast and we love each character, and on this record it feels like Steve has developed each member, continued the storyline, some have cliff-hangers, some have weddings, some get caught in a fire. This record bursts with character and and we are here for the ride.

An interesting new character is the arrival of John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin’s bassist, on some of the tracks and makes the central track ‘Back in the Doghouse’ and the title track highlights of the record. Considering this attention on development, there are some welcomed tinges of folk, that form the edges on a couple of the songs on Old Dog, seen on ‘Whiskey Ballad’ and a personal favourite ‘Underneath a Blue and Cloudless Sky’. These new introductions do make me think that the title of the record might be a little sign of self-awareness that Steve is indeed doing things a little different, indeed those luscious husky vocals are still there but that baritone has never sounded so deep and is particularly impressive on ‘What a Way To Go’.

On the record you can here Steve breathing which hints at that each song is done in one take and live which is always the best way, but it is hard to not notice that there has been some brushing up on production. It is similar to ‘Man From Another Time’ soundwise, yet the drums sound healthier and fuller, the tracks on which John Paul Jones’s bass appears do not dominate, and Steve’s vocals fluctuation from right out front on heart-melting single ‘Treasures’ to neatly tucked in on ‘Party’. Old Dog isn’t harking back to the coarse ‘Dog House Music’ sound, in which Steve tells us was recorded by his wife in their home’s kitchen, which is the record which everyone initially fell in love with, skipping over 2004′s ‘Cheap’, Old Dog is much cleaner, which does pose the question if it is too clean? I fell in love with Steve because of the honesty and modesty of his music, I loved the idea that he recorded a record in his kitchen, how cool is that? I suppose these are just idealistic thoughts, he’s not going to record everything in his kitchen is he, and Old Dog does sound nice and warm so not really a big qualm.

Steve rounds off the record with the spoken word story about the time he got caught with joint in the sixties and that he was sent to the illegal immigration compound because he told the police he was Canadian and didn’t have any ID. It is, as usual, mesmerising and fun to listen to.

On ‘You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks’ it is Steve doing the same old, same old, everything you love, but it is Steve showing some old tricks you never knew he had.

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