BROTHER SAL’S “BLOOD AND DUST” WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE BETTER, SERIOUSLY.
It’s hard to sum up most great musicians in just a couple of words, but with Brother Sal, it’s easy: Whorehouse Gospel. Music has never been more accurately described. Sal sounds like a whiskey soaked prophet having a party on an upright piano in an old timey brothel while the company girls shake their tassels.
But there’s also something more to the term. These songs are a raucously joyous explosion of timeless beats, rhythms, and riffs that reverberate on such a guttural, natural, and instinctive level that the sound can only be compared to the ecstatic release of burden that you find in pure salvation and in the arms and legs of a truly gifted lover.
Nobody plays piano like Sal. There are plenty of great players out there, but no one else is quite like Sal. He rollicks on the keys like a vessel channeling something bigger than him. It’s a sight to see and hear, but sometimes seeing it is hard, because Sal’s one of those blurry hands guys. He moves so fast, it’s all just a blur of wood, ivory, and flesh, and I have 20-20 vision and have even seen him play while I was sober (for a few minutes at least).
Sal’s sound is so organic and ageless that it moves you on an almost animalistic level, but there’s also a lot of wisdom in these songs too. They’re the stories and celebrations of life’s victories and defeats and the long van ride in between. The stories are personal but the feelings behind them are universal and transcendent. You may have suffered different losses and you may have won under different circumstances, but you know the feelings behind these songs, and Sal sings with such unadulterated passion that the commonality of the emotion resonates with everyone in the room.
Simply by reading the lyrics “I was tired, broke, and busted” you know the exact feeling driving that song, but it’s not a sad, weepy song that will make you want to try those stupid fucking “additional antidepressants” they’re selling these days. Sal has the musical brass to surprise you with a rhythm that will stop you from holding your head in your hands and crying into the giant can of beer you bought with the change you pulled out from under the cushions of your buddy’s couch you’re staying on. No, this song will make you dance. I don’t care how tired, broke, and busted you are, once that drum drops in with such a down and dirty beat that it sounds like it was as easily smuggled out of the jungle as it was a speak easy, you can’t help but let it move you. It’ll start with your head, then you’ll notice you’re bouncing your shoulders, and now here come your hips, and like that the Whorehouse Gospel has got you.