Recorded at the farm where he lives, Sonic Soul Surfer is the new album by Seasick Steve and his seventh to date. What is so refreshing about this record is the energy the bluesman puts into his songs, very impressive for a man in his seventies. With this album, Dan Magnussen is on drums with guest appearances from Luther Dickinson on slide guitar, Georgina Leach on fiddle and Ben Miller on Jew’s harp.
It’s a more back to basics approach without the glamour of Led Zeppelin’s Paul Jones and Jack White, who both featured on his last album Hubcap Music. You can hear chairs creak, amps buzz, count-ins and all the live energy that comes from the man and his musicians creating music in a very organic manner. As Steve himself says, ‘There ain’t a whole lot of producing going on! But I know what I’m doing and I know what I want!’ This approach doesn’t disappoint.
Starting off with Roy’s Gang, Steve sings about performing with the amazing enthusiasm he still has for it even after all these years – ‘I’m gonna get on that stage, gonna play you my very best show’. Bring It On is another blistering piece of music with slide guitar used to fine effect. Dog Gonna Play is another rocking piece of music that continues on from the fast pace of the opening two tracks.
Steve knows how to bring things down and there are a number of tracks on this album that show the tender side of the bluesman. Right On Time is one such acoustic song, as is the final song on the album, the rather introspective Heart Full Of Scars. ‘I’ve got years on my body and I believe it’s time to go’ is a very accepting way of facing oncoming death which age inevitably brings ever closer. Death is also referred to in We Be Moving – ‘Maybe when they lay me down in the cold, cold ground’ but the theme here is that the singer will only cease his nomadic ways when this final day comes.
Throughout most of this album, Steve is having fun without such serious thoughts on his mind. Summertime Boy is the epitome of this, as the musician’s love of Summer is expressed in a strong, catchy track with a foot-stomping beat. Sonic Soul Boogie is another such song with an infectious opening riff that dictates the solid tempo of this powerful track.
With Sonic Soul Surfer, Seasick Steve is once again on fine form. His voice is as strong as ever and his playing abilities are impressive to behold, as is his seeming ability to defy the ageing process.