January 7, 2010

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Seasick Steve, Man From Another Time
Atlantic Records, Nov. 3

What an easy sell this one is, a combination of Muddy Waters, ZZ Top, George Thorogood and the swampiest Zep you could imagine. Steve Wold is an NPR programmer’s wildest dream, having spent his early years as a hobo (or in his words, “Hobos are people who move around looking for work, tramps are people who move around but don’t look for work, and bums are people who don’t move and don’t work. I’ve been all three”), nowadays making his living doing broke-down blues for gawking Europeans, playing the stuff on actual-real cigar-box guitars, guitars with only one or three strings, laser-cool stuff like that. I can’t name a favorite from this LP — it’s obviously a set-it-and-forget-it album for when you’re in the mood to play solitaire drinking games — but one of my stated missions in 2009 was to seek out and explore strange new Dustbowl music for the Great Recession, the vibe of which “Happy (To Have a Job)” could have been the very prototype. Need more? OK, he lies about his age (close to 70, or something) and he looks like the great granddaddy of Larry the Cable Guy, i.e., even if he’s lying about his resumé, things simply don’t get cooler than this. A+Eric W. Saeger