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Album Review: Seth Yacovone Band, 'Welcome'


Published October 24, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.

Seth Yacovone Band, Welcome
  • Seth Yacovone Band, Welcome

(Self-released, digital, vinyl)

Seth Yacovone has been shredding the blues in these Green Mountains since the 1990s. At this point, he is both an artist and an institution. The former child prodigy has evolved from a human jukebox to a songwriter in his own right, and he has gigged tirelessly along the way. Today, Yacovone is still more comfortable letting his guitar do the talking, but his vocals have grown into a confident howl.

Welcome, the latest LP from the Seth Yacovone Band, is a celebration of that legacy. Crafted through living room sessions at Rebel Yell Studio in the Northeast Kingdom, it's a warm, intimate set of originals. After years of late nights and road damage, Yacovone doesn't sound remotely tired. If anything, he's charged up for another two decades at least.

As a songwriter, Yacovone remains a proud weirdo, balancing the vocabulary of classic rock with his own outsider perspective. Lyrically, the approach is hit or miss. First-person confessional cuts such as "Doing What I Was Born to Do" and "Sleaze" feel authentic and transparent. When he goes bigger picture, especially on social-commentary songs such as "Be Yourself," things can get uncomfortably preachy.

It's probably unfair to expect solutions to the world's problems from a blues-rock trio, though. What matters is that it all rocks convincingly. The band delivers blistering takes on every track, dialing in to the kind of controlled chaos that makes rock and roll so transcendent. It takes years of experience to make it all sound this easy and pure.

It also takes good role models. The arrangements and production harken back, perhaps inevitably, to Stevie Ray Vaughn's work with Double Trouble. Bassist Alex Budney and drummer Steve Hadeka do impeccable work in the pocket, and the band makes the absolute most of their stripped-down lineup. Overdubs are sparse but wielded to great effect, such as the wailing slide outro of the title track and the subtle acoustic layering of "Can the Call Go Through."

Yet Welcome is very much a rock album, not some blues purist pastiche. At only nine tracks, the album feels like a journey because Yacovone lets every song stretch out and breathe. There are no jams in sight; the trio treats everything as if it were the lead single.

It's fitting that this LP is cut to vinyl, courtesy of Justin Crowther's Burlington Record Plant. The whole team did exemplary work, from Dave DeCristo and Dan Devine's engineering and mixing to Lane Gibson's lush mastering job. The more you turn it up, the better the album sounds.

All in all, Welcome is an album of ass-kicking blues-rock from an idiosyncratic master at work. It's a monument of sorts to Yacovone's tireless work ethic and the best-sounding album of his career to date.

Welcome is available as a vinyl LP and digitally at CD Baby. The Seth Yacovone Band celebrate their album release on Friday, October 26, at Rusty Nail Stage in Stowe.