This is my first full-album take on Derek Trucks, supposedly the reincarnation of on Duane Allman, slide guitar guru. Well, though I have heard loads of the Allman Brothers music, I haven’t yet come across Duane Allman’s definitive slide guitar statement.
With Derek Trucks though, there’s definition all over the place. His sound is liquid, white-hot and a bit like an adrenalin shot that goes straight to your heart. His guitar playing has the ability to cut through all the bullshit and immediately touch something very fundamental. I can tell you from personal experience, that whenever I’ve heard him play (not just in this album), tears were not a remote possibility.
In context of this album though, this sounds a bit incongruous, as this is very much an album by ‘The Derek Trucks Band’ and not just Derek. The singer and the rest of the instruments are all given due space. Special mention must go to the rythm section of drummer Count M’Butu (what an AWESOME name!) and bassist/vocalist Todd Smallie. It’s tight, grooving and feels like a breathing and heaving animal. It’s that alive.
Despite all this talent, Trucks’ playing still leaves the biggest impression by far. He does not cram every inch of the band’s music with a wailing guitar. Its very tasteful stuff. The lack of insecurity is refreshing. I’m looking at you Mr.Generic Virtuoso guitar soloist. The other ‘soloist’ here is the singer/bassist, who has a very Rob Thomas-ish voice on many tracks, which jars in my opinion. Of course, there are other much better and more unique voices on offer here, which are duly enjoyed. You’ll know.
The music itself is great, though I wouldn’t at any point listen to this album as a whole. Think of it as a collection of Rootsy, Bluesy, Bluegrassy, Indian Classically (that one went too far) songs that are generally happy sounding. The surefire standout track is ‘Our Love’. Trucks’ guitar playing there makes me double over in teary-eyed tragicomical agony.
Of course, being the pecksniffian that I am, I will point out certain little flaws with this. On the whole, this is a very…..consistent…album, and while for some that’s a brilliant idea, I hunger for something a little faster or much slower ever so often. And something that has a few tempo changes mid track. I miss some of those. Err…maybe it’s because the last album I heard was St.Anger by Metallica. Just maybe.
Also, I would like to hear more Indian Classical music in the music of Derek Trucks. My pulse quickened at the beginning of ‘I Know’ when I heard some Tanpura, but was disappointed by another rootsy, upbeat but unremarkable track. To make matters worse, the track ended with the same, vaguely titillating Tanpura.
That however, is the only disappointment throughout an album that is on the whole, excellent. The mixing is flawless, the playing is fantastic and the fact that this album started upwards of Billboard #20 despite the lack of commercial aspiration is heartening. This sounds right.
P.S. I’m filing this under Blues-Rock, as that’s the closest inclusive genre I can find.
How blue can you get? More BLUES/BLUES ROCK reviews HERE.