10 songs – 35 minutes
Sean Pinchin is based in Toronto, far away from the Mississippi delta, but he lays down some hypnotic blues with trance-like juke joint feel before shifting gears on this CD, produced through a grant from the Canada Music Fund, an endowment under direction of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
Now in his mid-30s, Pinchin, who doubles on guitar and stomp board, has battled back from a personal lifelong struggle with depression. Somewhere along his road to success and gigging 150 times a year, he realized he could make constructive use of his experience by channeling all of the heartache, pain and fear he suffered into song. This all-original debut disc is the end product of his troubled journey.
Rust Bucket is a reference to my body, mind and guitar,” Pinchin says. “They are all strong, but weathered from years of abuse and accomplishments. Music has saved my life again and again.”
Recorded live in two days, the album is produced by Rob Szabo, who’s won the Juno Award, the top honor in Canadian blues circles, for his work in the studio. “Sean is a total natural with a dirty feel when he plays that you can’t fake,” Szabo says. He accompanies the guitarist on keyboards, percussion and backing vocals. They’re joined by Mark McIntyre (bass), Adam Warner (drums and percussion), Steve Strongman (guitar and harmonica) and Emma-Lee (backing vocals).
Pinchin sets the theme for the disc with the fast-tempo “Broke Down Automobile.” The car serves as a metaphor for the singer’s personal issues as he deals with himself and a broken-hearted woman at home: “It doesn’t matter/She’s not on the road/I drove her so hard and traveled so far/And I should have known from the start/Wouldn’t make it too far.” A driving guitar pattern propels the tune, as does the vocal doubling from Emma-Lee. A similar riff drives the next song, “Boo Hoo.” In that one, Pinchin feels like a “lonesome, tired dog” looking for its master because his woman has left. Like the first number, the message is dark, but the delivery upbeat enough to deliver the message in a positive way. A slide guitar line that hints of the Delta also serves the tune well.
The mood and music brighten for “High Heel Shoes,” which glorifies Pinchin’s lady and the way she dresses, before the tempo changes dramatically for the country blues, “Wanna Stay In Bed,” featuring Strongman on the harp. The message: If the singer pulls the covers over his head, maybe his problems will go away. Next up, “Gotta Move” is not the old standard penned by Mississippi Fred McDowell. Instead, it’s a modern, driving, rock-tinged blues about juggling three jobs and a pocketful of bills: “I gotta move…yeah/So I can get paid/’Cause with some change in my pocket/You know I’m feelin’ okay.”
The slow, introspective, minor key “Comin’ Home” follows, as Pinchin reflects on returning from a gig on the road to the woman he loves. The tune gives him room to stretch out for a clean, single-note solo mid-song, his first true guitar break of the set. The energy picks up again on the uptempo “Dirt Poor Blues,” a plaintive plea for a better life. The band kicked into high gear for “Complete Fool,” a rocker that indicates Pinchin has turned the corner to a happier life. In it, he’s back behind the wheel of a fully functioning car as he reflects back on his previous troubles.
He follows that message with “Confession Blues,” which reinforces the idea of his personal healing, crediting the affection of a good woman. The set ends with the slow blues “Can’t Stop Falling In Love.”
This CD’s a roller coaster of emotion with a positive ending. Hopefully, it holds true for Sean Pinchin. Definitely worth a listen.