Sean Pinchin- Bad Things review

Sean Pinchin Bad Things

“If you’re gonna leave me, baby I wish you would just go.”

With an exasperated cry, Juno-nominee Sean Pinchin opens Bad Things with a blues-breakup song that is a stompin’ cry to freedom. His voice is all over the place, low and accepting, high and hurt. It is a bit of an emotional mess, “If You’re Gonna Leave Me,” and it is absolutely one of the finest performances I’ve heard this spring. The backing refrain is memorable, and brings companionable support to an otherwise lonely-ass song.

Few straight lines exist across Bad Things’ eight songs. From pained questioning (“Lie to Me”), a mother’s advice (“Bad Things”), and dealing with a wandering eye (“Hands to Yourself”) Pinchin and producer Rob Szabo appear less concerned with deviating from blues and rock conventions as they are in achieving a consistent sound. Their songs create a solid Danko Jones-like atmosphere, individual and often surprising, but full of powerful licks and catchy hooks. Party music, but the best kind—the type that makes one notice it.

A pair of standards provide additional blues ballast. Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman” is less haunting here than in its 1931 iteration, but powerful; the sustained guitar effects create a dark sonic landscape not often encountered in roots music. Pinchin’s slide guitar work on Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” is terrific, and he wisely chooses to not mess with vocal approach Johnson achieved on this classic slice of blues realization.

Steve Stongman’s plaintive “River” brings the set to a close, the most restrained number on the album. Meeting the needs of the song, Pinchin pulls back a bit and allows the song its natural flow.

Bad Things is immediately intriguing. Its songs burst from the speakers, not the least bit subtle. A blues-rock windfall.

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