IN THE MAGIC SHOP
It’s My Own Fault, Can’t Let Go, Hard Luck Woman, Trust In Me, Feels Like I Ain’t Got A Home, You Don’t Know What Love Is, Check It Out, I Went Wrong, You Wear It Well, Told Me A Lie, Make A Move, Fools Paradise
This is the first release of a 2005 album recorded at Grammy Award-winning producer Steve Rosenthal’s studios, The Magic Shop. Quite what it was that prevented it from being issued at the time is not explained but it sure couldn’t have been any dissatisfaction with the results.
From start to finish this album presents all that was good about Sean; his exciting and tasteful blues and rock guitar, his soulfully distinctive vocals and a surefootedness and confidence from a very early age in his ability to write his own material. And, of course, he was no slouch when it came to interpreting songs of others, standards and obscurer numbers alike.
The covers on this album are particularly effective, most notably a punchy and funky reading of Fenton Robinson’s signature Chicago blues classic You Don’t Know What Love Is and a brooding and reflective version of Johnny Fuller’s Fool’s Paradise. Even when throwing in a bit of a curve-ball in covering Rod Stewart’s You Wear It Well the results are mighty fine. Elsewhere, Trust In Me is a sensitive early soul ballad that would have suited Little Willie John down to the ground and is more than done justice to here by Sean. A little later I Went Wrong offers up some funky contemporary blues rock that shows off the important contributions made to this album by band mates Paul Linden, Melvin Zachery and Ray Hangen. The band as a whole again impress when they burn through the upbeat, optimistic sizzle of Make A Move.
There are also some intriguing versions of a few songs that would subsequently feature on his 2008 album, We Can Get Together. Feels Like I Ain’t Got A Home delivers a fierce southern rock kicker, while Hard Luck Woman offers up some impressively muscular delta blues rhythms. Best of all perhaps is the pared-down and atmospheric version of Told Me A Lie, one of the strongest original songs recorded during his tragically abbreviated career.
After listening to such an impressive album it is hard not to end up with some mixed feelings. Grateful to have been able to appreciate the impressive talents while they were around but still sad that, for Sean, it all ended so tragically early, with his passing in 2008 at just 29. Still his legacy lives on and all profits from this superb record will go to The Sean Costello Fund For Bipolar Research.
Review Date: October 2014