Review of Seasick Steve's album 'I Started Out With Nothin' And I Still Got Most Of It Left' released through Warner Brothers.
The upsurge in fortunes of one Steve Wold - aka Seasick Steve - is a story even Hans Christian Andersen would have struggled to invent back in the day, such is its real-life rags to riches story that only normally exercise themselves in the wildest of pipedreams. His life as a travelling busker has already been well documented, as has the fact that his appearance on Jools Holland's annual New Year's Eve hootenanny show seems to have been the catalyst for everyone to suddenly give a toss about what is essentially nothing more than a carbon-copy retread of a bygone era from long ago.
That's not to take anything away from Seasick Steve as a musician of course; as a blues guitarist and singer he evokes the spirit of people like John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters with much aplomb, as you would expect from someone who's spent the last half decade plying his trade quite admirably, albeit in homage to the masters of yore.
What that doesn't make him, however, is a competent songwriter in his own right, and despite 'I Started Out With Nothin' And I've Still Got Most Of It Left''s honourable intentions, the record is at best - for the most part at any rate - clumsy and disingenuous. Whereby Seasick Steve as a Festival sideshow works quite well, his recorded output falls drastically short and ultimately decrees as little more than a one trick pony that hasn't moved forward since the late 1950s, which is a sad indictment for someone so genuinely likeable and honest in what he does.
The lack of quality material on here hasn't quelled the appetite of his numerous collaborators, and the guestlist on 'I Started Nothin'.' is pretty impressive with Ruby Turner, KT Tunstall and Nick Cave along with Grinderman cohorts Warren Ellis and Jim Sclavunos all having cameos at various points here.
Nevertheless, despite their involvement - and Ms Tunstall and Cave et al's can really be described as being minimal at best - the record doesn't become enhanced as a result and when all's said and done, good intentions and honesty to the (lost) cause aren't sufficient reasons to justify why anyone should spend their hard-earned cash on this record.
Sorry Seasick, it looks like the festival circuit's going to be your lasting epitaph.