Album Review: Tedeschi Trucks Band – Let Me Get By (Fantasy)

Originally appeared on: https://13thfloor.co.nz/reviews/cd-reviews/tedeschi-trucks-band-let-me-get-by-fantasy/

Based in Jacksonville, Florida, hubby and wife team Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi formed the band back in 2010 and ever since have been making a sweet gumbo of blues, rock, blues and soul.  On stage they’re part Memphis soul and part show band, with their current line up numbering anything from 6 to 12 members.

The band’s grown a bit since their debut album, Revelator (2011), which won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Blues Album and so has their sound.  But despite their success and sheer size and the logistics of a band they never show any signs on this, their third studio release, of cracking under pressure. The music is relaxed but still energetic.  And confident.

There’s been a change in the band’s dynamic lately, especially in the rhythm section with both drummers and the bass player all perfectly married up and lock-stepped.  The overall effect is a totally professional, tight sound across every song, even with provisions for solos.  This is a band so very comfortable in its skin and that’s important because it’s also a band that records and tours together.  So chemistry is important.  In part that’s down to drummer Tim Lefebvre (who also appear on David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar) taking on a sort of musical coordinator role.

The old adage that a band of friends play together best certainly applies here, too.  It’s clear this is a band that’s having fun.  While other bands are fretting about the economy, climate change and Republican nominations these originals all appear to float above all that, like a warm mist over the water.  That’s particularly true on the jazzy Right On Time.  With its show tune swagger it could easily be the title for a Broadway musical.  In contrast, Don’t Know What It Means is more bluesy.  Susan Tedeschi has a similar vocal style to Bonnie Raitt, with a gravel timbre and just a hint of that come-hither huskiness.  That tune also displays the band’s confidence to go off grid and improvise towards the end.

This is the band’s most autonomous work to date, too.  Let Me Get By was made entirely ‘in-house’.

In interviews Tedeschi has often voiced her strong feeling that bands should be allowed to play what they hear and feel, without the commercial constraints of radio air play and genre boxing.  During the making of the record the band spend a lot of time together, cooking, eating, boozing, and all that leads to a freeing up.  Without the pressure to check the clock the musicians not only play better but seem to add a little of their own spirit into each song.

On Anyhow Truck’s guitar solo just seems to go on endlessly, building stronger and stronger over a swelling backdrop of horns and gospel BV’s.  On In Every Heart we go to church again.  This time the warm harmonies draw goose pimples.  This is the best soul food you can get.  Complimenting that is I Want More.  Pure Memphis soul.  Tedeschi Trucks band make slick professional soul and blues.  It might not be as grungy as Alabama Shakes or as deep as James Brown but the overall effect is a totally professional, tight sound across every song, even with provisions for solos.  This is a great party album and a brilliant distraction form real life.  What’s wrong with that?

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