Yep Roc Records
Sure, Tony Joe White’s gnarled swamp-fox “gimmick” has seen him trying to rewrite Steamy Windows since, well, since that time he wrote Steamy Windows. But when he gets it right he does a fine line in effortless, that creamy-smooth, big baritone voice laid down, certainly laidback, somewhere inside a guitar-based soft-boogie, chugging rhythms, a wee wheeze of harmonica, it ain’t ever quite the blues or soul or country but it drags elements of each down into the swamp. And it works. It works!
And so it is with Rain Crow, umpteenth record, but first in a while where White sounds fully committed – and therefore of course manages to pull off the effect of sounding like he’s not even trying.
Highlights abound, from the opening drive of Hoochie Woman, through the mercurial coiling of The Bad Wind, the title track’s subverted blues-churn, a rare double-speed stomp (The Opening of The Box) and the slow-burn of Conjure Child.
I’d argue, also, if you’ve heard Tony Joe White before you’ve heard these sorts of songs before. All of ‘em. But that’s probably why you’re back here for another dig. And this is as good as I’ve heard him sound in some two decades. When he lights it up in the way that only he can (Where Do They Go) all you need to do is sit back, relax and enjoy. It’s calming, liquid-smooth and so easy on the ears.
Besides, he wrote A Rainy Night in Georgia. And damn near gets a free pass just for that.