The song is everything. The attitude is not.
For years, this has been Steve Sinnicks’ motto. Armed with his voice and an acoustic guitar, Sinnicks proves melodies and words can still mean something.
They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. That’s what Andy Warhol once said.
The Last Irishman in Corktown is, in many ways, about change.
Steve “S.G.” Sinnicks hasn’t abandoned his strengths – far from it. His new album is his most ambitious and accomplished recording to date – which says something, considering his previous releases had significant community and CBC radio play and 2009’s Red Meat & Blue 88s was named Folks/Roots Album of the Year at the 2009 Hamilton Music Awards.
Yet Last Irishman sees Sinnicks’ palette expand into new territory like never before. The album features an array of storied musicians from local Hamilton legends (Tim Gibbons, Randall Hill) to national luminaries (Blue Rodeo’s Mike Boguski). Last Irishman takes the essence of Sinnicks’ songwriting and fleshes it out for old and new audiences alike. “Man From The Ministry” recalls Sinnicks as backed by The Attractions, while the title track pays homage to a hard-working geezer with its arrangement resembling a post-Celtic Pogues (with an appropriately boozy Shane McGowan growl). Elsewhere, a fiddle or a muted trumpet compliment Sinnicks’ storytelling, and sometimes Sinnicks’ wry observations are left to the stark and simple exposition of voice and acoustic guitar (“Christians,”) (“You’re Gonna Need It”).
A chronicle of love and loss, a lament for the loss of kindness and decency, with a hint of how to recapture both; the new album shows a bolder vision than ever for Sinnicks. The “Last Irishman” himself is an inflexible old codger, unchanged despite the changes around him. Sinnicks himself hasn’t changed, but there are plenty of areas where he took Warhol’s word to heart and changed things himself.
Steve “S.G.” Sinnicks began playing drums at 11 and at 15 began to play the pubs with everyone from local artists to Canadian legend Stompin’ Tom Connors. While he still occasionally fills in on the skins, he is now known across Canada and in the U.S. as singer and songwriter in the vein of Nick Lowe, Billy Bragg or John K Sampson with a folkie background and a history of dissent.
Last Irishman captures both a new atmosphere and the core elements of Sinnicks the songwriter – the elements that led Penguin Eggs magazine call him “one hell of a smart find from our own backyard.” Words, music, and solidarity are Sinnicks’ core. That hasn’t changed. His politics remain prescient, his compassion remains intact and more than anything, his music remains infectious. This is both a new, invigorated Steve Sinnicks – and the Steve Sinnicks his fans have championed since his debut in 1998.
Steve Sinnicks – union made and proudly Canadian!
Bio courtesy of James Tennant
Program Director, 93.3 CFMU FM