Bluesy guitar licks and unpretentious lyrics like, “You may think this song’s about a woman. What’s the matter, can’t you hear? Ain’t about nothin’ ‘cept an old John Deere” comprise the first songs off Seasick Steve’s (aka Steven Gene Wold) newest album, Man From Another Time. This album is made for listening at a bar, from the upbeat blues rock of songs like “That’s All” to the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young-inspired “Dark,” whose guitar riff Wold takes straight from “Ohio.”
As the album progresses, Wold’s songs become almost spiritual. “Happy (To Have A Job)” features intricate guitar picking and Wold’s low growl, and a distant slow, tempo-keeping bass drum part that anticipates the build into a feverish exaltation of employment: “I’m happy to have a job!” “The Banjo Song” is more reserved; it’s lyrics, hymn-like: “Everybody needs a place to die, in your own home.”
Overall, Steve showcases laid-back wisdom on the album. He’s reflective and insightful without taking himself too seriously. “Man From Another Time,” especially, showcases Seasick Steve’s thoughtful songwriting: “My greatest fear before I die is to turn into a boring old fart, all I can do is keep playing what’s in my heart. Anyway, I don’t know why you wanna listen to what I say, Ain’t you got nothin’ better to do, than listen to a man from another time.”
Maybe because Wold has done so many things in his life, including being a migrant worker, a cowboy, a busker, and then a music producer for indie acts including Modest Mouse, Wold, on Man From Another Time manages to be many things at once: honest, silly, joyful, posturing, vulnerable, and sad. The album comes across as an unpretentious expression of who Wold is and where he’s coming from (another time?). And that’s what I like about it the most.