Mike Zito’s Gone To Texas CD Review
Lately Mike Zito has gotten a lot of attention from his work as co-founder of Royal Southern Brotherhood with Devon Allman and Cyril Neville. But long before that, Zito had been doing some impressive work as a solo artist. On his own, Zito put out 3 releases: ’08’s Today, 09’s Pearl River, which won BMA’s Song Of The Year award for his collaboration with Cyril Neville on the title cut, and 2011’s Greyhound, nominated for a Best Rock Blues BM. He also got critical acclaim for the Brotherhood’s eponymous debut in 2012.
But with his new band, The Wheel, (bassist Scot Sutherland, drummer Rob Lee, and Jimmy Carpenter on sax) Zito has done some of his best work to date on his new release, Ruf Records’ Gone to Texas.
Swooping and soaring like Duane,the title cut is an Allman-ish ode to Zito’s rejuvenation and redemption from drug abuse, with harmony vocals by Susan Cowsill.
“Rainbow Bridge” has Sonny Landreth taking a Lowell George-like, Feat style solo, Susan Cowsill hollering like Bonnie Bramlett as Zito recalls the joy of rolling into Louisiana in the early dawn with the swamp pop classic “Mathilda” stuck on repeat on his vehicle’s AM radio due to a slumbering DJ and the night sky lit up by the flares of off- shore oil rigs.
With a soulful rasp that combines the best of Tab Benoit and Delbert McClinton, Zito makes “I Never Knew A Hurricane” a new age soul classic, Carpenter’s sax burbling soulfully behind the family-style, gospel tinged harmonies of Cowsill and Zito.
Delbert McClinton jumps in with some raspy soul shouting for the Neville/Zito composition “The Road Never Ends,” a greasy, slippery slide-enhanced road lament: “Lumps in my bed… I can sleep when I’m dead/ when I’m home I miss the road/ and on the road I’m missing you.”
Sounding like Tab Benoit,Zito pops up some new soon-to-be-classic swamp pop with McClinton’s “Take It Easy,” a cautionary tale for women who love road dawgs: “Don’t start thinking I’m something I’ll never be/ just need me as much as need be,” Zito sings, backing his raspy soul commentary with a bucket load of stinging slide.
He closes it out with an acoustic take on Blind Willie Johnson’s “Let Your Light Shine On Me,” wailing joyfully like the redeemed sinner he’s come to be.
Zito bares his soul throughout this testimonial.It‘s not the work of a man squatting in corner wallowing in self pity, but a man sure in his resurrection who wants to celebrate and share his blessings and transgressions with a wall rattling, roadhouse throwdown. Thanks for including us, Mike. And the next time you feel a musical sermon coming on, let us know so we can be part of the congregation.