The Derek Trucks Band, Already Free (Sony, 2009)

Guitarist Derek Trucks has built a strong reputation over the past decade and a half both as a member of The Allman Brothers Band (his uncle, drummer Butch Trucks, is one of the remaining original members) and as the leader of his own band.  Already Free, the 2009 release of The Derek Trucks Band, showcases his mastery of the slide guitar and boasts a number of good songs.

While Trucks is the bandleader, dominant instrumentalist, and most prolific songwriter, he doesn't actually do any of the singing.  That role is filled mostly by Mike Mattison, but the album also features guest vocals from Susan Tedeschi (Trucks' wife) and Doyle Bramhall II (a blues guitarist best known for touring with Eric Clapton). Most of the best songs come early in the album, particularly with the one-two opening salvo of "Down in the Flood" and "Something to Make You Happy."  The first song, a Bob Dylan cover, gets a down-and-dirty blues treatment that comes across like a breath of fresh air. Trucks and his band do a fine job bringing an Al Green-style arrangement to the second song, originally by the late, underrated blues rocker Paul Pena.  Another solid song is "Sweet Inspiration," a love song with the feel of a rousing gospel number.  The band mix styles throughout, but whether they do blues, soul, or straightforward rock, Trucks' slide guitar dominates the musical arrangements. This is certainly not a bad thing, as Trucks is a first-rate guitarist who gets a remarkable clarity of tone. Much like Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughn, Trucks knows what his selling point is and he milks it for all it's worth.

Already Free is the kind of album that fans of guitar rock will eat up.  Derek Trucks is a strong player with a rock solid band, and there are more than enough good songs here to justify the purchase.  Trucks and Susan Tedeschi have recently pooled their musical resources together, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band's first release Revelator is definitely on my to-get list.

Overall grade: B+

reviewed by Scott

"Down in the Flood"

No comments: