What does it sound like?:
Signs is Tedeschi Trucks Band’s 4th studio album and, if you have loved some of their live tracks which I’ve posted here, but been disappointed by their albums, fear not. This new one is their best so far.
Live, the band are one the best around; a combination of a Leon Russell soul revue show, the Allmans and Delaney & Bonnie at their vintage best. In Derek Trucks they have a unique talent on guitar, his slide technique instantly recognisable. In his wife, Susan Tedeschi, they have a singer of such soulful blues purity that she has only a few peers. And the 10 members (yes, count ’em, TEN. How does anyone earn a living from a 12-piece band?) of their band are just a fantastic amalgam of blues and soul, brass and backing vocals.
So, why is this one better than the other three?
Well, they are a more mature, seasoned outfit, with hundreds of gigs under their collective belt. The addition of brass has made a huge difference to their sound, fleshed it out so that the choruses are now a wall of joyous noise. But the biggest reason this is their best yet is the songwriting. The quality of the songs on this one is terrific. If you were compiling a Best Of from the four albums you might take 9 tracks from the first three and at least as many from this one.
The album opens with Signs, High Times which has ‘set opener’ written all over it. It’s a swampy, bluesy rocker with Susan and the three other singers swapping lead vocal lines. Great brass stabs, the bass and two drummers giving it a big fat bottom end and Derek leaving the slide in his pocket for a solo that takes the whole thing home.
Next up is I’m Gonna Be There, a soul song, a beauty. Shimmering strings punctuate Susan’s voice and give the song a dreamy quality. The backing vocals then borrow from Stevie Wonder’s As and climb to successive highs as Derek plays a wonderful solo over the last two and a half minutes of the song. An instant classic which you know will get stretched out live.
When Will I Begin starts out as a slow song that suddenly skips into a jazzier beat which lifts the song beautifully.
Keyboard player and flautist Kofi Burbridge was battling with cancer all through the recording of this album and he shines on his co-write with Derek, Still Your Mind. Kofi has been the band’s ‘musical genius and mentor.’ Sadly, Kofi passed away on the day the album was released. He’ll be a sad loss and Derek’s emotional solo on this track will become even more so when they play it live.
Shame is a blistering rocker with the brass and vocals swelling the sound and lifting it higher. They Don’t Shine is another rocker that could easily be the show-ender, or the first encore.
The album ends with a tender, acoustic song called The Ending. In the CD insert there is a nice pencil drawing of Gregg Allman, CeDell Davis, Leon Russell, BB King and Butch Trucks, who all passed away whilst the album was being made. It’s a beautiful tribute which, sadly, will have an added emotional connotation for the band now.
What does it all *mean*?
It means that TTB are firing on all cylinders (all 12 of them) on this album. This new material really opens up their live set. The fact that so much of the material not only comes from Derek and Susan but also from other members of the band, bodes well for the future.
Goes well with…
Anything, anywhere, anytime.
Might suit people who like…
The Allmans, Gov’t Mule, Delaney & Bonnie, Leon Russell, Bonnie Raitt, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray, the list goes on.