Listen Up: Wednesday, March 15, 2006
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Derek Trucks Band

Songlines (Columbia)

By Tom Geddie

Combining blues and rock with touches of Eastern, Middle-Eastern, and African music, Songlines — the Derek Trucks Band’s first studio c.d. in four years — moves the body and occasionally touches the soul. Already a veteran guitarist at the ripe old age of 26, the native Atlantan Trucks spends 300 days a year on the road with both the Allman Brothers Band and his own outfit. The playing here is uniformly superb. There are a lot of extended instrumentals, but the music is tighter and crisper than the typical jam band’s.

New lead vocalist Mike Mattison’s normally hoarse voice is a nice fit, nowhere more effectively than on the old traditional “Crow Jane,” where he goes falsetto to remind us, in the odd way that a blues song can sometimes feel upbeat, that “someday you know you gotta die.”

Other highlights: the introspective 10-minute interpretation of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s “Sahib Teri Bandi/Maki Madni,” an exploration of Middle-Eastern themes that doesn’t lose its electric-guitar American-ness; Trucks’ and producer Jay Joyce’s rhythmic “I’ll Find My Way”; and Joyce’s blues-rock anthem “Revolution,” which claims that a better day is just a dream away.

The c.d.’s title refers to an Australian aborigine story that claims the country’s elders traveled the continent and literally sang their world into existence. Trucks and his band use the concept as their musical and spiritual point of departure. Perhaps Songlines is about the freedom of spirituality and not the constrictions.


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