Sean Costello: Sean Costello
This self-titled album is Atlanta blues guitarist Sean Costello's fourth solo release, and although he is still only 25 years old, his informed knowledge of the blues genre (and lately, soul and R&B as well) belies his age. The contemporary blues scene is full of hotshot young guitar players, but Costello is somewhat of an exception, having learned that less can be more, and his guitar playing doesn't take center stage here, but falls instead into a wonderful ensemble style that draws as much from Steve Cropper's economic playing as it does from the slash-and-burn approach of Stevie Ray Vaughan. Not that Costello can't amp it up when necessary (his version here of Tommy Johnson's classic "Big Road Blues" is nothing short of thundering), but he has learned to play the song rather than play the guitar, an important distinction that some of his flashy contemporaries have yet to discover. Nor is this strictly a blues outing, as Costello explores an intriguing mix of soul, funk, and hard rock, covering songs by Johnny Taylor, Al Green (the horn-driven "I'm a Ram"), and Bob Dylan (a version of "Simple Twist of Fate" that features Levon Helm on drums -- Helm's daughter, Amy Helm, helps out on backing vocals on several tracks here as well), along with seven original compositions, including the dynamite opener, "No Half Steppin'." It is worth mentioning, too, that Costello's voice has matured into a surprisingly flexible and expressive vehicle, and he even moves into a kind of urban soul mode with the self-penned ballad "All I Can Do." Although this is a fine and impressive outing, one gets the feeling that Costello is just starting to hit his stride as a songwriter and singer, while as a guitar player he has obviously learned the vital and difficult lesson that drawing attention to your playing should only happen when the song demands it.
Sean Costello - Sean Costello - 2004 - Tone-Cool/Artemis 51576