Seb’s Music Shop – One Man Band – Blues Volume 1
Self-Release – 2019
11 tracks; 37 minutes
Seb’s Music Shop is a one man band project by Sébastien Plante, a founder member of French Canadian rock band The Respectables and it is Seb’s first foray into the blues. Apart from a guest appearance by harp player Jim Zeller on one track, everything you hear on the disc is Seb who plays guitars, harp and drums. In the sleevenotes Seb also gives credit to Paul DesLauriers for ‘teaching me some of those cool blues licks’.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the album is mostly covers of blues classics: Robert Johnson will always be a touchstone for blues artists though four of his songs is quite a high proportion of what is on offer here! There are also one each from John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, plus three originals to round out the disc.
The choppy guitar and heavy foot stomp works well on “Crossroads” and Bo’s “Who Do You Love?” adds substitutes tambourine for Jerome Green’s maracas. A Jimmy Reed medley of “Babe What You Want Me To Do/Bright Lights Big City” softens the stomp a bit and gives Seb a chance to show off his guitar chops. Equally familiar as the distinctive Bo Diddley sound is Chuck Berry’s signature rock and roll riff and Seb has it down pat on “Roll Over Beethoven” which rocks along very well before he gives us a pair of RJ tunes: a heavy but catchy take on “Stop Breaking Down” with slide and “32-20 Blues” which opens with quiet guitar work before morphing into a country blues which seems to have bass alongside the guitar. A final visit to the RJ catalogue closes the album with a fun take on “They’re Red Hot”, complete with kazoo. The other cover is John Lee Hooker’s “It Ain’t Right” on which Jim Zeller plays harp. So, all the covers are extremely familiar to blues fans. But what of the original material?
“15 Years” is a departure with more of a pop/rock approach than most of the album, quite an attractive tune with Seb lamenting the end of a lengthy relationship; “Blue For You” is an uptempo piece that fits more with the one man band approach and has some good guitar work but the very repetitive “My Mama Said” manages to outstay its welcome despite being only two minutes in length.
One suspects that this sort of one man band approach is always better live than on record where the rather limited palette can drag a little. Of course, the traditional one man band would have Seb playing all instruments at the same time, harp on a rack, guitar and vocals and all percussion via a stomp board whereas here the harp is clearly overdubbed (it’s behind the vocals throughout the JR medley) and you can certainly hear bass on some tracks, notably “32-20 Blues”.
Although this reviewer is not familiar with The Respectables it is likely that this is a big departure for Seb so all credit to him for returning to the blues that underpins most rock music.