Although the cover art evokes Raymond Chandler’s 1940s Los Angeles, this album was created in New York City, and the music recalls the best of what we were listening to in the 1960s, with gritty blues numbers (“Indigent Woman”) side by side with sweet love songs (“Carol Ann.”) Singer/songwriter/guitarist Mark Sebastian has roots on both coasts, but from his earliest years he was right in the middle of New York’s folk/blues music scene. At 14, he heard the likes of Mississippi John Hurt in Greenwich Village clubs and later he and his brother John co-wrote one of the decade’s most enduring pop anthems about New York City, “Summer in the City.”
Mark Sebastian’s latest collection of songs draws from many genres including blues, soul and rock but they all have that familiar ‘60s vibe that has endured for a half century. Produced by Jimi Zhivago, who also plays bass, guitar and keyboards on the record, The Real Story features nine groovy tracks, seven of them originals. Brother John plays charming harp on the two of the bluesiest tracks — Jim Jackson’s “Wild About My Lovin’” and Mark Sebastian’s “Howlin’,” which only sounds like it could have been an old traditional lament. The soulful “A Fork in the Road” sounds like it could have been co-written by Smokey Robinson, and it was. The title track and the closer, “All of Her,” are deceptively simple songs about complicated love affairs. With their lovely, sad melodies and Sebastian’s warm vocals, they are reminiscent of the best of the Beach Boys.
– Kay Cordtz