In 2010, husband and wife Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi decided to set aside their respective solo projects and collaborate. The result was Tedeschi Trucks Band, a large ensemble of eleven musicians anchored by Tedeschi’s soulful vocals and Trucks’ soaring slide guitar work. The band quickly became known for their incendiary live shows, but also found time to record Revelator, their debut album that would go on to win a Grammy for Best Blues Album. The new TTB new record, Made Up Mind, finds the group continuing to refine their blend of blues-rock and soul with eleven tracks that showcase their songwriting skills and expert musicianship.
The album kicks off with the aggressively bouncy riff of the title track. The song alternates between a bluesy verse riff and uplifting chorus before launching into the album’s first slide solo from Trucks. His concise lead drops into a quiet bridge section before ending with an extended chorus.
“Do I Look Worried” starts off sounding almost like a minor blues song before going off into more unique territory. After Tedeschi sings a few verses, Trucks’ slide playing replaces her on the next one with some incredibly vocal lines. His guitar work has long been praised for emulating the phrasing and vibrato that great singers are capable of, and this is a great example of his approach.
Tedeschi Trucks Band’s “Part of Me”
The acoustic guitar driven “Idle Wind” comes next, featuring some interesting texture including subtle percussion layers and melodic flute lines played by keyboardist Kofi Burbridge. “Misunderstood” brings the energy back up with an infectiously funky riff. Burbridge stands out on this track with some fantastic clavinet and organ work, creating a deep, bubbling groove for Tedeschi to sing over. Soulive/Lettuce guitarist Eric Krasno co-wrote and contributes guitar on this track, including a wah-drenched outro solo.
TTB’s soul influence is apparent in “Part of Me.” Tedeschi is joined by Saunders Sermons on vocals, and the two weave and blend their lines beautifully, especially on the chorus. This song also benefits from some well-placed horn lines throughout. Though the TTB horn section plays on most of the tracks, their abilities seem a bit under-utilized throughout the record.
Like her husband, Tedeschi is a very strong guitarist, though she doesn’t play on much of the album. She does get to shine, however, on “Whiskey Legs”. She takes a short but powerful solo after the first chorus, and holds her own trading lines with Trucks during the outro. Burbridge once again provides masterful accompaniment on clavinet and organ.
Burbidge’s playing throughout the album adds a nice depth to the overall sound, including the ballad “It’s So Heavy.” Along with his organ, backing vocals add a haunting backdrop to the track. Up next is “All That I Need”, which has an almost Motown sound to it. With its great chorus hook and full minute-long outro solo from Trucks, this is one of the album’s high points.
Another mellow tune, “Sweet and Low,” provides a pleasant calm before “The Storm,” the penultimate track on which the TTB seems to pull out all the stops. Beginning with a raunchy, overdriven guitar riff, the song’s lyrics describe a perilous natural disaster with “fires burning” and “nowhere left to swim.” As Tedeschi sings about the danger at hand, Trucks doubles some of her lines with his guitar. After each verse, a jazzy interlude gives Trucks a chance to throw down some tastefully nimble lines. Halfway through, the band drops into a wide-open groove held down by session bassist extraordinaire Pino Palladino. Burbridge and Trucks dance around each other before the drums jump to life, changing the feel completely. Suddenly, Trucks reenters with a newly aggressive, overdriven tone. His lines bounce back and forth as they are panned left and right, giving a similar effect as the intense outro of the Jimi Hendrix classic, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” The band comes to a sudden halt, finishing off the longest, most powerful track on the album.
After the full on assault of “The Storm”, the record finishes with another acoustic song, “Calling Out to You”, which features only Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. In 1970 two of Trucks’ heroes, Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, collaborated as Derek and the Dominoes on the classic album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Their album concluded with a quiet acoustic tune following the powerful “Layla”, and it seems that Trucks may have been going for a similar effect by ending with such a quiet, peaceful song.
Made Up Mind is a strong album that shows that the success of the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s debut was no fluke. Though they are most at home on the live stage, TTB’s skilled, tasteful playing and strong songwriting makes this album well worth checking out.
Written by Wib Schneider
OurVinyl | Contributor