Artist: Sean Pinchin
Album: Bad Things
Release date: March 1, 2019
The deal. As someone who came of age as a college radio DJ, I developed a certain distrust of anything too poppy. And even now, over twenty years later, I still reflexively bristle at anything with just a whiff of being too radio friendly. But maybe I’m finally starting to mellow. Because Sean Pinchin’s Bad Things is blues rock I’d be comfortable hearing on the radio (before iHeartMedia destroyed the form, of course).
Pinchin is Canadian, so perhaps the Americana label doesn’t apply, but the singer/slide guitarist certainly has a firm handle on the roots sound. He has a surprisingly sweet voice that works well against heavy blues grooves and howling slide that’s like a wolf during a full moon. Pinchin does a great job balancing familiar blues riffs against rock beats and uses an energy that’s practically metal. He also keeps things accessible, but not dumb, which is what sparked the radio thought.
One can almost imagine “Lie to Me” coming from an artist like Taylor Swift. The melody is almost pretty. The rhythm is driving; it’s made for a car stereo. But the song isn’t overly simple. Pinchin’s vocals have a touch of darkness and his slide work is energetic, but not especially flashy. “Bad Things” is similarly infectious, with slide lines that are more melody than muscle, providing texture and filling out gaps in the song, but not overpowering anything. It also provides enough space for Pinchin’s strong voice to take center stage.
Straight talk. This is a fun album. There’s the musical talent shown by Pinchin and his band, but there’s also his ability to balance blues and rock. These are rock songs with a well-honed blues edge. If he took off the slide and threw on a less soulful singer, this would be an average rock album. Pinchin’s gift is how he can pull these songs all the way to the thin blues line without crossing over into full-on blues.
The confession. It’s the usual story. Boy meets download. Boy loses download. Boy finds download. And a few months later, here comes a review.
Closing arguments. I’m not deliberate enough to structure reviews this way, but I’m glad this came after The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. The two are sort of the opposite of each other. Peyton is raw and visceral. Pinchin has just as much emotional punch, but it’s wrapped in more rock and roll thoughtfulness. Straight-up rock fans are sure to enjoy this blues-infected album, even if it’s not coming at them through the radio spectrum.
So much amazing music comes out all of the time. I review what I can as quickly as I can, working my physical and digital piles as efficiently as possible, but things fall between the cracks. Rather than giving up on things that are a little past their prime, contemporary-review-standards-wise, I’m going back for the overflow that deserves to be heard — even if it’s a little late.