CD review: Tedeschi Trucks Band – Made Up Mind
After two years of touring and picking up multiple Grammy and BMA awards, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi are clearly in the driver’s seat with the eleven piece roots-and-blues collective they formed in 2010; the second studio album, Made Up Mind, from the Tedeschi Trucks Band shows the group hitting on all cylinders. Like Revelator, their 2011 debut album, Made Up Mind was recorded at their Swamp Raga studios, a two-story, $400,000 recording and practice space behind Trucks and Tedeschi’s Jacksonville, Florida home. TTB asked several seasoned songwriters such as Doyle Bramhall, Sonja Kitchell, Oliver Wood, and John Leventhal to join in the creation of the eleven new songs. The result is an album of deep soul stirring music with an updated 70’s sound evocative of Sly and Family Stone, Allman Brothers, and Delaney and Bonnie. Each track is filled with interweaving melodic textures and rhythmic counterpoints that have been artfully arranged, creating a massive wall of sound that is a blend of blues, roots and soul.All of the virtuoso instrumentation is designed to highlight the amazing vocals of Susan Tedeschi who seems to have hit a real stride fronting this ensemble.
Tedeschi takes charge right from the get-go on the opening title track declaring she is in a higher place and moving on as Trucks’ guitar propels the band with an infectious riff. Susan continues to testify in the scalding rebuke “Do I Look Worried,” before getting sentimental for the acoustic driven “Idle Wind.” Some super slinky Clavinet from Kofi Burbridge fuels the funk of “Misunderstood,” which also features South African bassist Bakithi Kumalo. You will swear the two tracks in the middle of the album are covers of classics: the Motown infused “Part Of Me,” which finds Tedeschi sharing vocal duties with trombonist Saunders Sermons, and the deep swamp blues “Whiskey Legs,” that ends with a feisty guitar duel from Derek and Susan. Another of Trucks immaculate slide solos compliments the sweet gospel hymn “It’s So Heavy,” a song that Sonja Kitchell must have written with Mavis Staples in mind as Tedeschi channels her with ease. The six and half minute jazz rock fusion epic simply titled “The Storm,” whips the double drummer rhythm section into a fury (note the use of hard right and left panning with a full drum kit on each side) as Trucks blazes away. The album closes with the loving duet “Calling Out To You,” taking us to the back porch of Swamp Raga to catch a few fireflies and listen to the crickets as the sun fades away.
Rick J Bowen