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Seasick Steve Dog House Music Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

A Glastonbury favourite gets his first album re-appraised.

Jon Lusk 2007

This late-blooming Mississippi bluesman now calls Norway home, but you wouldn’t really know it by the authentic southern atmosphere he conjures up on this, his first album proper. Sounding like a mutant cross between Howlin’ Wolf and Tony Joe White, he’s got the kind of vocal style and mannerisms that so many less talented white bluesmen have adopted ever since the ’60s blues boom, giving the blues a bad name in the process. But this guy’s the real thing.

As he relates in the thoroughly auto-biographical ''Hobo Low'' and ''Dog House Boogie'', he really did leave a broken home at 14 and live rough, hopping freight trains as he drifted across America. And you can bet your last nickel that the hitch-hiker left out in the cold on ''Salem Blues'' was him. 'I’m gon’ warm my fingers' he mutters, before worrying the strings in a sublimely evocative flourish that sums up his approach to music making – highly imaginative, original and true to life.

Seasick Steve (real name Steve Wold) shot to cult fame in the UK after a knock-out appearance for the TV show Later with Jools Holland on New Years Eve 2006, toting his trademark 3-stringed guitar, which is all he plays on most of Dog House Music, aside from stomping on his ‘Mississippi drum machine’ (a box on the floor, basically). On ''Save Me'' he gets really basic, twanging on the one-stringed ‘diddley bow’, an ancient African American instrument that partly inspired another great stage name – Bo Diddley’s.

In a few places, two relatives add some proto-percussion to Steve’s no-nonsense picking and sliding, but mostly it’s just the man, his guitar, his stomp and his engaging stories. They have the unmistakable ring of truth about them and sometimes continue when the music stops, as at the end of ''I’m Gone'', where he launches into a rambling tale about a dog, which may or may not be shaggy.

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