Monday, June 13, 2011

REVIEW: Tedeschi-Trucks Band - Revelator

Revelator is the first disc from Derek Trucks, his wife Susan Tedeschi and their large band. It has been in the works for the last 18 months or so, but the idea has been germinating since they first met in 1998, when Trucks was on tour with the Allman Brothers Band. First observation: these folks can really, really play and sing. From Trucks' Duane-inspired slide guitar to Tedeschi's clear, strong vocals, the double drummers, and the horns and Hammond B3 organ, it all reflects great ability and dedication... but there's something more here, a love of tradition that makes their approach irrestible to me. If you know anything about my tastes, you may be aware that "originality" is not something I value in and of itself. And while the influences and precursors are easy to spot, that's not a hindrance in the least.

Here's a video about the making of the record:

Most of the songs feature plenty of Trucks' stinging slide guitar work, especially on the outros of the 5:00-plus "Midnight in Harlem" and "Bound For Glory". But he plays all kinds of guitars on here, and Tedeschi contributes some guitar work as well. And there are some nice soul ballads: "Simple Things" features the Hammond B-3 and piano moreso than the guitar, and "Until You Remember" has a nice horn intro, and also some excellent piano playing.

Here's a video of them performing "Midnight in Harlem" live:

Tedeschi's vocals, while clear and strong, are refreshingly not "oversung": notes are not stretched, twisted and tortured like in so much "neo-soul" music. It looks like she at least co-wrote 8 of the 12 songs on the record, and she sings them to let the songs shine through, with obvious respect for her blues, soul and gospel forebears. And the smoothness of her vocals are nicely offset by the earthy sounds of Derek's guitar:

The band is built around a husband and wife guitar/vocal team, and a lot of the support (keyboards, bass, composing and arranging) is supplied by a pair of brothers (Oteil and Kofi Burbridge), who have played with Tedeschi and Trucks in different groups and arrangements for several years. There are multiple connections and stellar resumes all over this record, but the thing that is obvious to me is the respect all these players have for Tedeschi, Trucks and their musical vision. The players are very comfortable playing together and this results in a cohesive record that goes from soul with horns to Southern boogie to gospel-tinged chorus, to the all-out rock of "Love Has Something More to Say".

If you like Southern rock, I highly recommend giving this a listen. You'll find musical reminders of Southern rock bands like The Allman Brothers Band and The Marshall Tucker Band to go along with the obvious touchpoints of blues, gospel, soul and swamp rock.

Tedeschi Trucks Band Website

Stream at AOL

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