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I first heard of Sean Costello through I podcast I subscribe to on a weekly basis. It was the gospel inspired, Going Home, which caught my ear. Then a couple of week’s later Sean was found dead in his Atlanta hotel room on Tuesday, April 15th., just one day short of his 29th birthday. The song then held more meaning and every time I listen to it, I try to relate to the struggles he suffered with on a daily basis, as someone battling a mental health issue, for Sean it was Bipolar. Since his death the Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research has been established.

Born in 1979 in Philadelphia, Costello began playing guitar at age nine, about the time his family moved to Atlanta. He came of age early, appearing regularly in clubs before he could drive, much less gain legal admission, to them. At age 14, his winning performance in the finals of the Beale Street Blues Society talent competition had career-changing effects. Costello put his solo aspirations on hold long enough to contribute memorable guitar tracks to Susan Tedeschi's career breakthrough gold album, Just Won't Burn and, with his band, to back her on the high-profile national tour in support of that record.

Sean was one of the youngsters the older bluesmen were passing the torch to. He had the opportunity to share the stage with the likes of BB King, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, Elvis Costello and the local St. Louis legend Johnnie Johnson.

Sean’s past albums were a compilation of Texas influences, Chicago and New Orleans traditions, and a venture into vintage funk and soul sounds. On this Delta Groove release, Sean was looking to do a home grown thing, a real hometown project, done with the guys he loved to play with. He felt like he wanted to make his on statement and with what will eternally be his last album, he does exactly that.

From my point of view, this CD has two distinct tastes. First there are the hard driving rhythms, with low gravely vocals done in the Mississippi Hills Blues style of the Burnsides. These are in your face, head nodding, rocking blues as evidenced in tracks like Anytime You Want, Same Old Game, and Hard Luck Woman. On the flip side, we have ballads which accentuate the melodic guitar playing with wonderful question and answering phrasing of his riffs. This allows the listener to truly appreciate Sean’s ability as an accomplished guitar player and story teller. Have You No Shame, Going Home, and All this Time were my favorites. Then in a category of its own, is the jazzy upbeat, Can’t Let You Go.

At first, I was mediocre on this CD, but with every playing, I have come to respect the talent that is reflected in these recordings. Sean truly was an up and coming bluesman and could have carried the torch for years to come. As a blues community, we have lost a talent that probably never reached his full potential and we may never know until we all eventually Go Home.

I rate this CD a 4.5 on the STLBluesometer.

-- Jeff “Harpin Homer” Winders

The STLBluesometer

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