Tedeschi Trucks Band

Everybody's Talkin' (Sony Masterworks 12) Rating: A-

Led by singer/rhythm guitarist Susan Tedeschi and her guitar playing husband Derek Trucks, this 10-piece band is comprised of members from their solo bands, and for my money this alliance has resulted in some of the best music of their respective careers (including Derek's other gig with the Allman Brothers Band). Their first studio album, Revelator, was very good, but this is a live band first and foremost, so I prefer this double live album, which really shows them in their best element as they cover five songs from Revelator in far more expansive versions along with six cover songs (really 6 1/2). Even discounting Susan and Derek this band is really good, and they brew together a potent mix of funk, r&b, pop, blues, gospel, and "jam-band" rock. The keyboards are appropriately atmospheric and add rich sonic textures, the horns are energetic and punchy, the rhythm section (including two drummers) is funky and formidable, and the support players (team players all) all manage to shine without typically stealing the spotlight. That's because the spotlight is primarily reserved for Susan and Derek; Susan sounds like a more powerful, gritty, and soulful Bonnie Raitt (whose voice is probably prettier), while Derek is simply one of the greatest slide guitar players ever. They remind me of the old Delaney and Bonnie gang, or of Ms. Raitt fronting the Allman Brothers Band, and quite frankly in this day and age it's refreshing to hear real musicians organically playing real music, without any Pro Tools, auto-tune, lip syncing, guest rapping, or any of the other bullshit that's ruined much of what passes for modern music these days. The songs are really good too for the most part, and if I have a complaint about the album it's that some of the songs are too long and there's a tad too much noodling down time where not much is happening (the average song length is almost 10 minutes long!). Several of these tracks ("Midnight In Harlem," "Bound For Glory," and "Love Has Something Else to Say (with Kissing My Love)" come to mind) build to tremendously exciting climaxes, with Derek's wailing high-pitched guitar soloing usually leading the way, while Susan's shows herself to be a masterful singer throughout (p.s. she's a good guitar player too) - if their personal chemistry is as good as their musical chemistry, they must have one happy marriage! As for the cover songs, there are some good ones; for example, this loose and funky version of Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'" has a totally different vibe than the classic original, their soulful version of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Darling Be Home Soon" is a great version of a great song, and Stevie Wonder's "Uptight" is expanded past 15 minutes (ok this is one of the ones that could definitely be a bit shorter, starting with ditching the drum solos, but it's still a fun rendition). This album is more about impressive group interplay, spectacular soloing, and superb singing (Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers lend solid support in this area) than individual songs, however, and the crisp yet not too pristine sound quality (Trucks produced) is just about right too.

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