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Seasick Steve - Started Out With Nothin' and Still Got Most of It Left

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Rating: * * * *

"Seasick" Steve Wold is a sixty-something American bluesman and hobo whose moniker hasn't prevented him crossing the Atlantic to establish a high profile in Britain. But the deep-voiced fellow is no idiot savant or late bloomer - his musical career includes stints as a session musician and studio engineer in Seattle where he produced Modest Mouse before going itinerant again.

This, his third album and major label debut, also shows his former solo act of voice and three-stringed guitar has caused a crowd to gather.

There's a drummer out back most of the time, meanwhile British soul gal Ruby Turner guests on the title track, KT Tunstall adds guitar to Happy Man and Nick Cave and his Grindermen help turn the co-written Just Like A King into one of Cave's better tough-guy duets.

But the best of the 11 tracks are ol' Seasick all by himself, thumb-picking those three strings while stomping along. That's whether he's mourning the death of his pooch on One True, advising the best remedy for an infestation of bugs on Chiggers or ruing the passing years over some bottleneck slide - the contents of said bottle having been put to good use earlier, apparently, on the booze-soaked Whites Stripes-esque Thunderbird - on the closing My Youth.

Russell Baillie



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