Desert Legend Sean Wheeler – Sand In My Blood
Little Village Foundation
11 songs time-35:36
Now for something completely different…On this his first solo release self proclaimed desert legend Sean Wheeler has managed to create something that is at once riveting, stark, gritty and moving. A lifelong resident of California’s Coachella Valley low desert he was previously in the hardcore punk band Mutual Hatred and the punk n’ roll band Throw Rag. He brings his gruff voice and punk sensibilities to this extraordinary CD. The main thrust here is Sean’s voice along with the spy movie-meets-The Adams Family guitar tone of Billy Pittman. Much here is just them alone with the occasional percussion, keyboards or harmonica. His voice set against the atmospheric guitar is a match made in musical heaven. The two original songs along with nine covers from various genres of music blend together to create an experience that is as unique as possible.
Adams Family guitar adds an ominous tone Reverend Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy”, the only other instrument being bass. Sean’s gruff growl of a voice fits the feel perfectively. A Captain Beefheart song I’m not familiar with, “I’ Glad”, has normal lyrics and is calm, not a typical Beefheart song. Only guitar and bass with a yearning vocal. The original “Hey Cowboy” lopes along with the addition of some basic drumming. The guitar tone is wonderful here as it is throughout the CD. Sean’s rougher than an outhouse corncob on chili night voice fits right in here. Gil Scott-Heron’s funky “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” is backed solely by guitar and finger snaps.
“Wayfaring Man Of Grief” a poem by James Montgomery set to music has a serious, haunting quality to it. Kid Andersen contributes harmonium to “What Are They Doing In Heaven Today”, about as quiet as Sean gets. Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” receives a maniacal and sinister vocal assault. It works just fine thank you very much. A song with the lyric “Tell your heart’s tenants I’m moving in” is alright in my book, that’s what you get in “Now That You Know(Funky Wicked World). Aki Kumar adds his harmonica to the toe-tapping “Men Like Me Can Fly”. Clifton Chenier’s “I’m Coming Home” is a soulful and moody slice of rhythm and blues.
Less is definitely more in the case of this recording. A deeply felt voice, guitar, spare percussion, occasional keyboards and harmonica are all this special rough hewn music need. Open your mind and broaden your horizons with this lowdown masterpiece.