Atlanta roots guitarist/vocalist Sean Costello changes labels again -- this is his fourth in a five-album career -- but that hasn't proved to be a burden. If anything, his attack has sharpened both vocally and instrumentally on each subsequent release, resulting in this being his most impressive set. Although Costello is an accomplished guitarist and can shred with the best of his blues-rocking brethren, he wisely puts more emphasis on the songs and his singing. Nine out of the 11 selections are originals, the largest percentage of self-written songs on any of his albums, and even the two traditional tracks are substantially rearranged to fit Costello's style. The sound shifts from the gritty, sparse, old ZZ Top-styled "Hard Luck Woman" to the smooth soul and light funk of "Can't Let Go," arguably the finest, most melodic moment here. He's even convincing on the gospel cover of "Going Home," somewhat uncharted territory that works just fine with his gruff voice and stinging guitar. The material is so strong and the ensemble playing of his band, many of whom are established cohorts in the Atlanta blues community, so effortless that he doesn't need to distract attention from the songs with the extended soloing he is capable of. Most importantly, he establishes a greasy groove that weaves through each cut, connecting them even when the styles differ. The closing waltz-time "Little Birds" is another traditional tune, this one picked up from the Band's Levon Helm, who also performed it on his 2007 Dirt Farmer release. Costello's tough, taut arrangement includes a sizzling slide guitar solo that's every bit as respectful as Helm's more old-timey, fiddle-dominated version. While Costello is clearly inspired by the blues greats, many of whom he has covered on previous collections, he slants more to '70s Southern soul, rock, and R&B here, dousing these genres with a bucket load of swamp water and spearheaded by his whiskey-laced vocals. There's a thick, gooey atmospheric vibe that hangs over the album, gels its contents, and shows Costello to be a terrific singer and songwriter and guitar talent just hitting his peak.
AllMusic Review by Hal Horowitz