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It's So Heavy
on 21 August 2013
Solid and exuberant follow-up to the Grammy-winning "Revelator" finds the TTB in fine form. It's the usual winning blend of soul, blues, gospel, Stax and southern rock all immaculately performed and produced, but at the same time perhaps an opportunity or two has been missed along the way.
With a number of highly talented vocalists on board, once again it's a shame that the likes of Saunders Sermons and Mike Mattison haven't been allowed more of a front-line role. Sermons has a brief cameo vocal on "Part Of Me" but, frustratingly, Mattison's most noticeable contribution seems to have been writing the sleevenotes for the CD booklet. Splendid though Susan Tedeschi's vocals are (yet again), one can't help but feel that the album would have benefited from having a track or two led by a male vocalist (viz. the stunning contrast of "Wade In The Water" on last year's live release). It seems such an obvious waste of talent.
On the plus side, it's a strong and exciting set although at times one still longs for a bit of the avant garde touch-of-the-unexpected that made The Derek Trucks band such an exciting listen. Still, "Part Of Me" sounds worthy of being an old classic from the motor city and may well be destined to become one. The title track is one of those infectious songs that you find yourself humming at odd times of the day and can't get out of your head, while "It's So Heavy" is Tedeschi's real power ballad on this album, a vocal tour de force.
At certain times there's a nagging feeling that Derek Trucks' playing might just be a little too carefully practised and restrained but all such thoughts are firmly blown away by a rip-roaring and incendiary performance on "The Storm" in which he pulls out all the stops. It's without question his personal highlight on this particular record.
Elsewhere, only "Sweet And Low" misses the mark for me and is likely to tempt the skip button in future. But there won't be many better albums than this in 2013, and I can't wait to see them at the Royal Albert Hall in October.