Release Date: Aug 20, 2013
Record label: Masterworks
Genre(s): R&B, Soul, Blues, Pop/Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Blues-Rock, American Trad Rock, Roots Rock, Retro-Soul, Guitar Virtuoso, Retro-Rock, Modern Blues
What do you get when you mix a captivating husband-wife duo with the considerable talents of nine others? The result, my friends, is the supremely talented Tedeschi Trucks Band, fronted by guitarist/vocalist Susan Tedeschi and guitarist Derek Trucks. On Made Up Mind, the superb followup to the acclaimed debut effort Revelator, the 11-piece band delivers compelling performances that showcase the upmost musicianship. Compiled of a mix of blues, folk, classic rock, gospel and retro-soul sensibilities, Made Up Mind is a brilliant throwback without ever truly sounding anachronistic.
The key to the success of this sprawling 10-12 member outfit is that the music never feels as big as the ensemble performing it. And because we’re talking about classic soul, that smaller sound works perfectly since it’s married to an approach that shouldn’t overwhelm to deliver the biggest bang for the buck. The group’s third album in two years, and its second studio release, feels remarkably relaxed even with its three piece horn section, backing vocals, multi-talented members and Trucks’ ever present, patented slide guitar solos.
Made Up Mind, the second studio album from the Tedeschi Trucks Band, contrasts considerably with Revelator in that it showcases the strength of an 11-piece band willing to experiment as they assimilate inspirations -- from Stax, Muscle Shoals, Motown, Delaney & Bonnie, blues, and jazz -- and incorporate their various experiences into a new whole. Co-produced by Derek Trucks and Jim Scott, there is an increased emphasis on songwriting and more sophisticated arrangements. At the behest of Sony, Susan Tedeschi and Trucks invited other songwriters (some old friends) to contribute to these songs, adding perspective.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band are widely recognised as one of the biggest and best blues acts currently on the circuit. That rep will be further enhanced with this new outing, coming just a year after live effort Everybody's Talkin', which showcased their performance prowess. Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi were previously stars as solo artists, but they reach new heights in this group.
On 2011's Revelator, slide-guitar prodigy Derek Trucks stepped into the role of family man: placing the jammy Derek Trucks Band on hiatus to team up with his wife, singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi. The duo now co-front this sprawling Southern-rock outfit, whose second album combines funk, greasy blues and Memphis soul: beefier horn lines, snappier interplay between two drummers, and Tedeschi's rugged vocals. Trucks retrenches his six-string squeals in order to meld with the band, saving his dirtiest licks for the tempestuous plodder "The Storm" and the sucker-punch groove of "Do I Look Worried." The result is equal parts Stax and Muscle Shoals without the dilution of either.
Derek Trucks is an astoundingly talented guitarist. Trucks’ playing — particularly the ultra-emotive, vocal-sounding bottlenecks that have become his calling card — is one of those rare gifts that allows a player to turn even the weakest of songs into something enjoyable. The same can be said of Trucks’ wife and musical partner, Susan Tedeschi, who made a name as a premier howler of the blues, long before joining her own band with Trucks’ to make for the goliath roots conglomerate they now perform with, the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
If “Revelator,” the Grammy-winning debut from the Tedeschi Trucks Band, was the sound of a group of musicians getting to know each other, the follow-up, “Made Up Mind,” is that of a fearsome, well-oiled machine. Named for Norwell native Susan Tedeschi and her husband, guitarist Derek Trucks — of his own namesake group and the Allman Brothers Band — it is indeed a splendid marriage. Her scorching vocals, his mind-bending guitar work, and the support of nine top-notch players coloring in the rest make for a tasty stew of rock, R&B, blues, and roots music that is as alluringly melodic as it is rhythmically brawny.
It’s one kind of victory for a long-running band to overhaul a sound; many do, or try to. (Innovation, it could be argued, is rock’s old European disease.) But it’s an equally valid kind of victory to make continually good records, the focus slightly tighter each time around. Persisting is creative, too. “I Hate Music,” the indie-rock band Superchunk’s 10th album since 1989 and its second after a nine-year break from recording during the aughts, reflects an evolution almost like that of a group working the mainstream jazz language: refinement by slow degrees.