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The title and cover of Seth Stainback’s new album "Fire & Steel" refers to his day job, a welder at the Norfolk Shipyard. Stainback writes music for the working class, or as he puts it in the liner notes, “the clock punchers and road dogs, the dollar chasers and high iron walkers, the rig workers and yard rats, everybody getting burned and bruised.” Stainback has a way with words and his new album communicates on a very basic level to anyone who’s trying to make ends meet.   

With slide guitar work that’s not quite the blues, acoustic balladry that’s not really country and raucous, funky rhythms that couldn’t be called flat out rock and roll, stainback is an artist forging his own style of music that is not easily pigeonholed. It’s brave and forceful at times while moving and tender at others.

The album is produced with a very subtle touch by New Orleans blues-rocker Anders Osborne. It’s Stainback’s lyrics that star here and Osborne is smart enough to find the right way of expressing those words through a variety of rootsy arrangements.

Stainback has gained a reputation for putting on smokin’ live sets with the crowd on their feet and rockin’ and there are some songs that play to that level but it’s the more introspective numbers that give the album depth and lets you hear the artist emerge from pounding rhythms or the metal on metal grind of the shipyard.

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