CD review: Mike Zito and the Wheel – Gone To Texas
Guitar man Mike Zito picked out his A team of musicians and crack audio engineer David Farrell and headed into the Dockside Studios in Maurice Louisiana for six days and created a love letter to the Lone Star state called Gone to Texas. The thirteen songs set of bluesy countrified soul rock was wonderfully tracked and mixed with a deep warm sound anchored by the stout rhythm section of Scott Sutherland on bass , drummer Rob Lee and Lewis Stephens on keys who bolster Zito’s greasy guitar playing and tenacious vocals. Saxophonist Jimmy carpenter adds just enough color to give the sound a modern edge and vocalist Susan Cowsill will make you swear this album is a set of duets with Bonnie Raitt. The opening title track has the perfect slow burning groove of a road trip across our nation’s biggest state in the lower 48. What could be more anthemic than the line “I’m gone to Texas with my guitar by my side, gonna find me a woman and make her mine,” Willie nelson couldn’t have said it better. Zito invited renowned slide man sonny Landreth to add his signature sound to the track “Rainbow Bridge,” fueling the Little Feat inspired groove that pays tribute to the bayou country. Zito and Cowsill get sentimental on the smooth lovers lament “I Never Knew A Hurricane,” then Zito takes a solo turn channeling Son House with his own Delta tome “Death Row.” Then the album quickly shifts gears as the rhythm section is set loose to unleash a funk firestorm on “Don’t Break A Leg.” Then another of Texas’ favorite sons Delbert McClinton trades barbs with Zito on a classic honkey tonk shuffle “The Road Never Ends,” swapping solos on harmonica and slide guitar on a classic blues penned by Zito and Devon Allman. Speaking of Mr. Allman, Zito sounds remarkably similar to Devon’s father Greg with his lazy southern drawl and emotive delivery though out the album and especially on the tales of tribulation “Voices in Dallas.” And “Wings OF Freedom,” with Stephens playing some very Chuck Levell inspired piano for good measure. Zito closes the album with a dead on rendition of the gospel song “Let Your Light Shine on Me,” filling the shoes of the late great Blind Willie Johnson and his powerful bass thumb-picking and gravelly tenor. The guitar evangelist from Beaumont Texas was reported to have been arrested for nearly starting a riot by singing in front of a New Orleans courthouse; a true testament to the power of song.
Rick J bowen