Tedeschi Trucks Band
I’m truly happy that Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks met and married – and not just for the personal story, they’re making better music together. Which is not to say they were ever making bad music alone. Tedeschi has seven solo albums where she belts out blues licks and sings her heart out – she’s a hell of a guitar player as well as a great singer. Trucks, a guitar legend from the youngest of ages has a similar amount of albums out as the leader of the Derek Trucks Band but he’s also been the sideman (Eric Clapton) and part of a band (Allman Brothers) that’s part of his personal legacy, not just his musical one (his uncle was Allman Band drummer Bruce Trucks).
But when Tedeschi and Trucks met on a musical and personal level the Tedeschi Trucks Band gave birth to, if not new ideas then the perfect crystallisation – with Tedeschi joined by other vocalists and Trucks not the only lead guitarist. Still it’s their voices we listen for on these instruments – here on their fourth studio album it could only be Derek Trucks’
searing slide guitar on I’m Gonna Be There, and though Tedeschi is killing it also she truly shines a track later on When Will I Begin. For this 12-piece band this is a typical gospel-belter and both it and I’m Gonna Be There will be firm live favourites.
You get the feeling that Signs exists purely to pump new songs into the live repertoire; that studio albums by the Tedeschi Trucks Band are just the spit-balling of a talented horn section, some great guitar players, swampy, bluesy organists…etc, and that it all exists purely and only for the stage. As fine as the delicate ballad Strengthen What Remains is, a slip of a song in the context of the TTD canon, I still think of this as a live band, a living, breathing organism – hard-touring unit. And its audience will love most of what is served at it.
Certainly though Signs shows the band diversifying slightly, evolving, not so much taking risks but just thinking a little outside of the familiar patterns even as it sticks to the knitting.
The band welcomes guests that are connected to the wider legacy – Warren Haynes, Doyle Bramhall II – and there are moments where the simmering pot of blues, rock and gospel bubbles over into the jam-band world of the Allmans but in a surprising new way (Shame). Think too of the late-70s version of The Grateful Dead. These are the obvious reference points. But TTD keeps finding new ways of saying the same old things, or new things to say within the same old frameworks, it’s a case of either, or and then both. And the playing here is infectious, the singing is career-best and there’s a fire. A real fire.