Some Awesome Songs In The Blues You Should Be Listening to This Month
I not too long ago wrote a piece called “8 Recent Blues Rock Songs You Absolutely Need to Hear“. It turned out to be pretty popular so I thought I’d write a sequel and – maybe – even turn it into a series. Since that time there’s been lots of great new music in the blues and blues-rock, so I thought it was time for an update. Here we go:
1. Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Crying Over You / Swamp Raga for Hozapfel, Lefebvre, Flute and Harmonium” – Let Me Get By
The Tedeschi Trucks Band is one of the very best bands the the blues has going for it right now. Some of this stems from their amazing two-headed attack of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. Derek Trucks is a virtuoso on the guitar and slide and I can’t imagine a song I wouldn’t want to hear Susan Tedeschi sing. But in the case of “Crying Over You / Swamp Raga for Hozapfel, Lefebvre, Flute and Harmonium” she lets band mate and fellow vocalist Mike Mattison take the vocal spotlight, and he handles it more than ably as Derek Truck continues to dazzle us with his guitar playing. The chorus of the song really soars and is backed by an exuberant “whoo-hoo” vocal call that is impossible to resist. At almost 6 minutes into the song it morphs into a two-minute long eastern “Swamp Raga” – swimming in the beauty of a droning, Drop D acoustic guitar with Kofi Burbridge’s dexterous, floating flute playing providing harmonic intrigue. It’s a great moment and doesn’t sound like anything else on the album.
2. Robin Trower – “When Will the Next Blow Fall” – Where Are You Going To
On March 25, Robin Trower released his latest guitar soaked excursion into the blues, Where Are You Going To. The former Procol Harum guitarist is 71 years, but he still knows how to rock it hard, as evidenced by the lead off track from the album, “When Will the Next Blow Fall”. Essentially a two-chord vamp, Trower’s golden-tinged vintage vocals convey a kind of world-weary pain, but it’s his down and dirty guitar playing that is the song’s centerpiece. Never showy, Robin Trower’s playing is laden with deep emotion and cries in the wind. Robin Trower is most famous for his time as the guitarist for the progressive / blues-rock band Procol Harum. Procol Harum’s hit song “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is one of the few songs in the history of rock and popular music to have sold over ten million copies. As a solo artist, Robin Trower’s most famous work is his Bridge of Sighs record from 1974. It was jam-packed with Hendrix-influenced but signature Robin Trower licks across its 8 track run.
3. Anders Osborne – “Move Back to Mississippi” – Spacedust & Ocean Views
Anders Osborne is a man that has the blues in his blood and his bones. His 12th album, Spacedust & Ocean Views (Dumaine Records), however, is something of a departure from his previous efforts. As American Songwriter revealed in a review on February 16th, Anders Osborne’s latest album is less about fiery guitar rave-ups and more about a quiet, introspective and atmospheric blues-rock vibe. No track exemplifies that spirit more than the slow-burning, textured eeriness of “Move Back to Mississippi”. With crashing snare drums and it’s gospel-inflected backing vocals, the journey through this track’s 6:21 minutes is hauntingly memorable. Anders Osborne has been a prolific songwriter, co-writing with blues musicians as beloved and celebrated as Keb’ Mo’, for instance. Recently, Osborne has toured with the North Mississippi All-Stars, with whom he co-released the album Freedom and Dreams.
4. Harper and Midwest Kind – “Drive Brother Drive” – Show Your Love
Peter D. Harper – who goes by “Harper” in the music world – is an award-winning singer-songwriter from Australia who has scored success with his Detroit-based touring band called Midwest Kind. His rootsy style of blues music gains some of its distinct character from both Harper’s earthy harmonica playing as well as his incorporation of the indigenous low-droning Australian instrument the didgeridoo, a veritable stranger to the blues. “Drive Brother Drive” from his latest album Show Your Love is a delicious concoction of raw acoustic guitar roots goodness sprinkled with excellent harmonica riffing and a can’t-miss harmony-rich chorus that you’ll be playing on repeat. Show Your Love has deserved to climb to its spot in the top ten of the Billboard Blues Albums chart and we hope it continues to make some waves. It’s a rewarding listen.
5. Bonnie Raitt – “Gypsy In Me” – Dig In Deep
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and blues-rock’s #1 queen of the slide guitar is back with a new album and it’s currently reigning at #1 on the Billboard Blues charts! As if that wasn’t impressive enough, her record hit #1 on the Folk chart, #1 on the Rock chart, and #11 on the 200 Albums chart. “Dig In Deep” is Raitt’s 20th album, 17th from the studio, and it features five songs originally written by her plus some really good covers. Raitt was coming off a two-year long tour and was excited to get back into the studio with her touring band and a cool new collection of songs. The album is self-produced and was released on Bonnie Raitt’s own record label, Redwing Records. The album’s 9th track is “Gypsy In Me” and tackles the theme of the singer’s propensity to need to be out on the road. True to the album’s title, Raitt’s slide guitar playing digs in deep and grabs hold, and her authentic vocal turn conveys the honesty of her sense of wanderlust.
6. Honey Island Swamp Band – “Head High Water Blues” – Demolition Day
Described by their bio as a combination of The Band’s Big Pink, Little Feat’s Willin’, and a “splash of hot sauce”, the Honey Island Swamp Band’s latest offering, Demolition Day, is a tasty morsel of their brand of “Bayou Americana”. The album is produced by Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars was released by Ruf Records on April 29. The band experienced the horror and devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans firsthand, and that personal knowledge shines through in the lyrics of the swampy Allman-Brothers’ influenced groove-tune “Head High Water Blues”. But the song’s upbeat, funky tone and cheery Duane-Allman reminiscent slide playing belies the somber nature and power of its words. Exquisitely crafted by guitarists Aaron Wilkinson and Chris Mulé, the guitar work is subtle but top-notch and helps keep this delicious groove flowing.
7. Joe Bonamassa – “This Train” – Blues of Desperation
You didn’t think I forgot about Joe Bonamassa’s latest scrumptious helping of blues-rock, did you?? No, the hardest part was settling on one amazing song to highlight out of an album of 11 gems. But settle I did – indeed, on the album’s first track – “This Train”. The song is a powerhouse opener, and you can feel it barreling down the tracks like the iron carriage to which it refers. I love Joe’s confidence and swagger in singing this song, and the twin beats of drummers Greg Morrow and Anton Fig are absolutely infectious. And of course, there’s Joe’s snarling, searing guitar solo for good measure. Longtime Bonamassa producer Kevin Shirley helps Joe deftly craft the production of this original work by Bonamassa and Nashville-based songwriter James House to amazing effect. It’s a hell of a way to kick off an album. And it rocks live too. If you don’t believe me, watch below: