Review: Seasick Steve, You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

It’s been out a little while now, but I’ve been busy. Finally then, here is my review of Seasick Steve’s newest album.

This album was going to be a make or break one, for me, after the slightly disappointing ‘Man From Another Time’ which felt a little too samey. It made me wonder how much life was in the old dog. Luckily it seems there’s quite a lot.

The album begins with a sigh which opens the first track, ‘Treasures’, which is a slow and melancholy affair. If the rest of the album continued in this vain it would be too depressing to describe. But in comes the distorted tone of one of Steve’s signature guitars to kick off the title track of the album ‘You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks’.It answers the dread felt around the longevity of a man making blues music which is directly approached in the lines: “Maybe I need to change my style/Been this way for a long long while/Maybe there’s a few things I oughta fix/Can you teach an old dog new tricks” to which he answers: “Maybe I should leave well enough alone/I might not be perfect but I’m me to the bone/I don’t need to change my style/Been this way for a long long while/There ain’t nothing that I got to fix/You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.

The answer it seems, is to stick at doing what you were doing and screw everyone else! Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to get yourself a couple of friends in to form a backing band; in this case Dan Magnusson on drums and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and Them Crooked Vultures fame on bass. This band dynamic really does seem to bring something to the table in terms of shaking up the sound and energy of this album over many of the previous Seasick Steve albums.

Other stand-out tracks on the album are the raucous ‘Don’t Know Why She Love Me But She Do’, the jaunty, whistle lead ‘Whiskey Ballad’. But I really can’t find a weak song on the whole album to be fair. This is easily the best album Steve has released in a little while and proves that even if you shake up the formula just a little bit the reward is a refreshed sound, even with the limitations of blues music.

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